The Altar

Exodus 27:2
“You shall make its horns on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it. And you shall overlay it with bronze.”

One of the key furnishings of the Tabernacle was the Altar. It was a large wooden structure overlaid with bronze. It was located within the gate of the courtyard, and outside the entrance of the Tabernacle, itself. It was on the Altar, where all of Israel’s sacrifices were offered. After the construction of the Tabernacle was completed, the nation gathered around and dedicated it to the Lord; concentrating on the Altar, with its sin offerings. This dedication included placing blood on the four horns of the Altar. These horns were more than decorative attachments to the Altar, the Psalmist wrote, “God is the Lord, and He has given us light; Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar” (Psalm 118:27). This Psalm is Messianic, meaning it looks forward to the Christ, and His death upon the cross. In a figurative sense, Jesus was bound with chords to the Altar when He was bound with nails to the cross. These horns were on the four corners of the Altar, pointing outward in the four directions of the compass. Again, in a figurative sense, the Altar alluded to the fact that salvation was available to all men through the shed blood of the innocent. After rising from the dead, Jesus sent His disciples out to the uttermost parts of the earth with the simple message of salvation, available to all who would put their trust in Christ.

Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, . . .” The word translated “nations,” is the Greek word “ethnos,” from which the word ethnicity is derived. Jesus is declaring that salvation is the same for all people, everywhere. No matter who we are, if we want eternal life, all we need do is come to the cross and receive Christ.

Pastor Jim

So Sad 

2 Corinthians 7:10
“For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”

Unfortunately, sadness is a common feeling. We have experienced it in all its varying levels and intervals. We have had little things happen that caused us to frown and go quiet, and we have had deeper experiences that gripped us with sorrow and caused us to weep or even wail. Paul is speaking here, not of the sorrow that comes from your favorite team losing a game, or even losing someone you love, he is speaking of the sorrow that comes upon a person when they realize they have sinned against God. The Psalmist wrote of a time when he was overcome with that kind of sadness;

Psalms 6:6 “I am weary with my groaning; all night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears.”

Often, when a person’s sin is exposed publicly or privately, they will show signs of great sorrow. It is not uncommon for people to come to the altar with tears streaming down their faces and confess they have fallen once again into an easily besetting sin. Like the Psalmist, they are certainly remorseful for what they have done, and are looking for a way of escape. Paul warns that although sin will often produce sorrow, not all sorrow will produce a change in behavior.

“For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation…”

The true evidence that a person is remorseful for the sin they have committed, is not the tears that are produced, but the change of behavior that follows. Paul uses the word “repentance;” a word that carries the idea of turning, and involves a turning from sin to God. Too often, we are satisfied with tears, thinking that is enough to show that we are truly sorry for the wrong we have committed.

“What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication!” 2 Corinthians 7:11

Paul is describing what godly sorrow will produce. “Clearing of yourself” refers to the removal of the guilt and shame, that comes with sin and failure. It is not the byproduct of a good cry, but of a change of actions, that will clean our conscience. He speaks of the need to apply diligence to your walk with the Lord. This is often seen in building walls that will keep you from going back into sin again. “Indignation” is a word that speaks of intense anger. The person who is sorrowful over sin, is a person who is angry at sin. It has been my experience, we avoid people at whom we are angry; the same will be true of sin. “Fear” is often looked at as a negative feeling, and certainly there are things we are afraid of that are irrational and silly; however, sin is not one of them. The person who wants to succeed in walking with Jesus, must have a healthy fear of sin and it’s effects upon our lives. As long as you think you are immune to sin’s tempting hooks, you will not avoid it, and you’ll find you continue to fall.

Finally, Paul speaks of “zeal” and “vindication”. True turning from sin will create in us a new intensity to follow Jesus. Sadly, I often see people come forward weeping over their sins, only to see them for the last time. Instead of determining they will press on in their walk with God, they go out the doors of the church, right back into the lifestyle that led to failure. If we want the vindication, the victory, the freedom to overcome our constant failures, we must determine to increase the intensity we pour into our relationship with Jesus.

Pastor Jim

 

The Verdict 

Ezra 3:2
“Then Jeshua the son of Jozadak and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and his brethren, arose and built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the Law of Moses the man of God.”

Central to returning to the Lord, was the Altar. With it, sacrifices could be offered in accordance with the Law of God. Without it, man would still be striving on his own, attempting to build his way to God. The altar, tragically, involved the sacrifice of the innocent in place of the guilty. This method of atonement was offensive to some; not because of the death of the innocent, but because of the declaration that those offering the sacrifice are guilty.

Long ago, the Cross replaced the altar as the means by which man could access God. The method changed, but the statement it makes remains the same. Man is guilty before God and sacrifice must be made on his behalf. Jesus, Himself, became the sacrifice for us. His blood was shed on our behalf so every guilty sinner might have access to God through Him. Rather than being offended by the fact that you are called a sinner, why not accept the pardon He provides. After all, if you don’t think you are a sinner, you are the only one who believes that.

Pastor Jim

 

Sweet Aroma

Leviticus 1:2
“Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of the livestock—of the herd and of the flock.’”

IMG_1476Leviticus is a book about worship. After Israel was redeemed from Egypt and settled for a time at Sinai, God gave them detailed instructions regarding how to worship Him. This worship was centered around five offerings, all of which, when offered, were a sweet aroma to the Lord. Although we are no longer required to bring animal sacrifices to a temple to please God, each offering represents an important aspect of our relationship with God.

The burnt offering is a picture of complete commitment to the Lord. This offering was placed on the altar and consumed in the fire, giving off a sweet aroma, and illustrating a life totally committed to the Lord. Paul exhorts us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). This does not mean we literally lie down upon an altar, but that we devote ourselves to the Lord and His service.

The grain offering was a picture of offering all we have, and all we do, to the Lord. A person would bring the grain he had grown and harvested to the Lord. The grain offering illustrates the works of the hand, produced in the service of God. Not only are we to consecrate ourselves to the service of God, but we should offer all we possess.

The peace offering was a picture of fellowship. The offering itself was divided into three parts. One portion was placed on the altar and given to the Lord, another portion was given to the priests to eat, and the final portion was to be consumed by the person who made the offering. God, those in ministry, and the individual, all partook of the same offering. They would celebrate the sweet fellowship they had, first with the Lord then with one another. The New Testament sacrament of Communion does the same thing.

The sin and trespass offerings were different than the others; they were not voluntary. A person could choose when to offer burnt, grain or peace offerings, but the sin offering was mandatory, because all have sinned. This offering represents the work that Christ accomplished upon the cross in order to remove all sin, and make us right with God. Today, it is no longer necessary to offer animal sacrifices, but it is necessary to receive, by faith, the pardon for sin that is made available because Christ went to the Cross.

If you want your sins forgiven and you want to know God and go to heaven, join me in praying,

Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for my sin. I ask you to forgive me of my sins, come into my heart and help me follow you, Amen.

Pastor Jim

 

The Altar

Exodus 27:2
“You shall make its horns on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it. And you shall overlay it with bronze.”

IMG_1448One of the key furnishings for the Tabernacle was the Altar. It was a large wooden structure overlaid with bronze. It was located within the gate of the courtyard, and outside the entrance of the Tabernacle, itself. It was on the Altar, where all of Israel’s sacrifices were offered. After the construction of the Tabernacle was completed, the nation gathered around and dedicated it to the Lord; concentrating on the Altar, with its sin offerings.

This dedication included placing blood on the four horns of the altar. These horns were more than decorative attachments to the Altar, the Psalmist wrote, “God is the Lord, and He has given us light; Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar” (Psalm 118:27). This Psalm is Messianic, meaning it looks forward to the Christ, and His death upon the cross. In a figurative sense, Jesus was bound with chords to the Altar when He was bound with nails to the cross.

These horns were on the four corners of the Altar, pointing outward in the four directions of the compass. Again, in a figurative sense, the Altar alluded to the fact that salvation was available to all men through the shed blood of the innocent. After rising from the dead, Jesus sent His disciples out to the uttermost parts of the earth with the simple message of salvation, available to all who would put their trust in Christ. Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, . . .” The word translated “nations”, is the Greek word “ethnos”, from which the word ethnicity is derived. Jesus is declaring that salvation is the same for all people, everywhere. No matter who we are, if we want eternal life, all we need do is come to the cross and receive Christ. Pastor Jim

 

Watch Your Step

Hosea 8:11
“Because Ephraim has made many altars for sin,
They have become for him altars for sinning.”

Growing up, one of my favorite TV shows was Sherlock Holmes. As most of us know, he was a detective from London who used his keen skill of observation to solve crimes. Often, when he would uncover a clue, he would declare, “It’s elementary my dear Watson.” Which was an underhanded way of stating that what he discovered was obvious to anyone who would take the time to look. Hosea makes a statement that Holmes would find elementary, he declares that if a person builds an altar for sin, he will find it leads him into sin.

As obvious as this principle seems, we sometimes lose sight of its simplicity. Often, when we fall spiritually, we look around puzzled as to how that could have happened. If however, we took the time to look back, we would find our fall was inevitable, because of the steps we were taking. We must always remember that if we make a way to sin, we will end up sinning.

The secret to success is to remove the things that make sinning easy. We need to do those things that make sinning more difficult and doing what is right easier. That is what the building blocks of Christian living provide. The Word, prayer, fellowship, worship, and service are designed to help us grow in Christ and make sinning more difficult. We only have so much time, if that time is spent building ourselves up in Christ, we will in turn have less time to be drawn after the things that lead to sin.

Perhaps it would help to ask yourself, what things you can take out of your daily life that will make it more difficult to sin?

Pastor Jim

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