Sacrifice 

Numbers 19:2
“This is the ordinance of the law which the Lord has commanded, saying: ‘Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring you a red heifer without blemish, in which there is no defect and on which a yoke has never come.'”

A heifer is a cow. One that is entirely red in color would be extremely rare, and as a result quite valuable. As part of Israel’s purification process they were to take a red heifer and offer it outside the city. Once it’s blood was symbolically sprinkled on behalf of the people, the priests were to wash with water and stay away from things that would defile them, making them unfit for service. Anyone who became defiled would need to go through a purification process that required both cleansing and a period of time. It is not difficult to see the symbolism here, or to relate this to the work of Christ and the walk of the believer.

Jesus is the represented by the red heifer, sacrificed outside the city. His blood was shed as a means of providing cleansing for sin. Once we receive Christ, we need a regular washing with water, which comes through the daily reading of God’s Word. If we desire to remain pure and useful for ministry, we need to avoid things that will make us unclean. If we happen to stumble into an area of sin, the solution is to go back to the cross where we confess our guilt, and get into the Word where we are strengthened to overcome sin. Take whatever time is necessary to be restored that we might once again become effective in ministering to others.

Pastor Jim

 

By The Blood

Leviticus 8:30
“Then Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood which was on the altar, and sprinkled it on Aaron, on his garments, on his sons, and on the garments of his sons with him; and he consecrated Aaron, his garments, his sons, and the garments of his sons with him.”

The priests wore garments designed by God and put together by the finest craftsmen in the land. These garments included a tunic, sash, robe, ephod, breastplate and even a turban. When the priest was fully dressed, all eyes would be upon his attire. That is why this verse is so striking. Once clothed, the priest would approach the altar, sacrifice a ram and sprinkle its blood upon his clothing. Instead of seeing the glory of the garments, all eyes would be fixed upon the stain left by the blood.

Too often we are fixated upon our own works. When we are doing well, we allow our accomplishments to make us feel as though we are better than those who are not serving as much or in the same ministries. When we are failing, we think God is disappointed with us, and sometimes this will push us farther and farther away from the Lord. I think it is time we realize that our eyes are not to be fixed upon the garments of our actions, but upon the blood that makes us right with God. Just as the ram was sacrificed to atone for the sins of the priest, so Christ shed His blood to wash us from all sin and set us apart to God.

Revelation 12:11 “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”

When facing great temptation, trial, or difficulty, we will always find success when our eyes are fixed upon the work Christ accomplished for us on the cross. It was not, is not and never will be, our great accomplishments that make us right with God. It is the shed blood of Jesus alone that we look to as the means of making us and keeping us righteous.

Pastor Jim

 

Stained Garment 

Exodus 29:20-21
“Then you shall kill the ram, and take some of its blood and put it on the tip of the right ear of Aaron and on the tip of the right ear of his sons, on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood all around on the altar. And you shall take some of the blood that is on the altar, and some of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and on his garments, on his sons and on the garments of his sons with him; and he and his garments shall be hallowed, and his sons and his sons’ garments with him.”

The Lord went to great detail to explain the garments that the High Priest would wear. He referred to them as holy garments, designed for glory and for beauty. In other words, they were designed to both look beautiful and to reveal some aspect of the Lord’s glory. These garments included a breastplate, an ephod, a robe, a skillfully woven tunic, a turban, and a sash. The most highly skilled artisans in all Israel were commissioned to create them. Once the day of consecration arrived, Aaron and his sons were dressed in the most beautiful and highly technical attire the world had ever seen, but as they approached the altar, something quite striking took place. An innocent ram was killed, it’s flesh offered upon the altar, it’s blood mixed with anointing oil, and this mixture placed upon the Priest. Imagine how shocking to see the High Priest all dressed up, then have blood splattered upon his garments. No longer would our attention be drawn to his beautiful turban, breastplate or sash, now all we would notice was the stain.

God wanted the people, then and now, to understand that access to God is never based on what we try to do to earn it. All the skilled artisans on the planet could not create attire clean enough to grant access to God. Access to God is only granted when sin is covered by the blood of the innocent. This was symbolized by the blood stained garments of the Priests, and pointed to the time when Christ would make a way for all to have access to God.

Hebrews 9:12 “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”

The blood was also placed upon the ear, toe and thumb of the Priest. This was symbolic of a cleansing of all that he had done, and preparation for where he would go. How often have we laid our head on our pillows at night only to be consumed with guilt, for the things we have heard, seen or touched. We live in a fallen world, and sin is always around us. It is so comforting to know there is cleansing available to free us from sin and guilt.

Pastor Jim

The Meeting Place 

Ezekiel 41:4
“…And he said to me, “This is the Most Holy Place.”

The deepest chamber within the temple housed the Ark of God and the the Mercy Seat. It was here, the high priest would enter only once a year to bring the blood of the sacrifice, and intercede on behalf of the Nation. It was here,  God had originally explained to Moses, they could meet with the Lord and talk to Him about anything.

Exodus 25:22 “And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.”

I think it is worth noting,  this chamber is called the Holiest Place. It is only in holiness that we can meet with God. That is particularly concerning when we realize we are not holy. The prophet made it abundantly clear, even our best attempts ar doing good, lack true holiness in the sight of God.
Isaiah 64:6 “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind! Have taken us away.”

If God is holy, the meeting place between God and man is holy. We, at our best, are not holy;  we are in need of help. That is where the cross comes in. Under the old covenant, this was solved through sacrifice on the altar. The priest would confess his sins and that of the people, and would enter the holiest place. Now under the new covenant, this is solved by Christ. His sacrifice provides atonement for all our sins. We, like the priest, must accept the sacrifice, by accepting Christ and confessing our sin. When we do, we are forgiven, made holy, and have access to God.

If you have received Christ, there is nothing keeping you from the holy meeting place. You may attend there regularly, bringing yourself, your life and your needs before the Lord.

Pastor Jim

 

Pardon The Preserved 

Jeremiah 50:20

“‘In those days and in that time,’ says the Lord,
‘The iniquity of Israel shall be sought, but there shall be none;
And the sins of Judah, but they shall not be found;
For I will pardon those whom I preserve.'”

One of the greatest benefits of being in a relationship with God is the forgiveness of sin. God explains that although we have transgressed His laws, the covenant provides pardon. In Israel’s case, it was through temple sacrifice, in ours, it is through the blood Christ shed at Calvary. The forgiveness He offers is complete. All sin, and it’s penalties, are washed away in the priceless blood of Christ. When God forgives, nothing will ever be brought up again.

I am captivated by the statement in this verse where sins are sought, but cannot be found. It is not saying that we cannot find a way to sin, but rather that the sins of the past have been completely pardoned. Whoever might bring a charge against the child of God, the answer will remain the same, “What sin, I don’t remember it.”

Guilt is one of the strongest anchors which holds us back, from accomplishing great things for the Lord, but it is not God who is filling our minds with guilt from past failures. Those things have been forgiven and we can move on to a life which brings glory, honor, and praise to God. I have often thought, how little Paul would have ever accomplished if he let his past failures hold him back from pursuing and serving Christ.

If you are feeling guilty about present sin, turn from it and to the Lord, but if you are plagued by past failures, it is time to look past them and at the cross, where all sin was washed in the blood of God.

Pastor Jim

 

The Economy 

1 Peter 1:18-19
“Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

One day, Jesus was sitting with His disciples watching events transpire at the Temple. As they looked on, He drew their attention to a woman who approached the tithe box, she inserted two small copper coins worth almost nothing. Her actions prompted a comment from Jesus, who informed the disciples that she had given more than all others, because she gave from her poverty, while they gave from their wealth. In doing so, Jesus revealed a very important principle within the economy of God; the value of a gift is determined by what it cost the giver.

This basic economic principle helps to shed light on the comments Peter makes regarding our redemption. To be redeemed is to be purchased. It was a word that would be used to speak of a person being purchased out of slavery. Peter is using it to describe our salvation. We who were once slaves of sin, have been redeemed from the curse, and brought into a right standing with God. Peter explains that the blood of Christ is the only currency with that kind of purchasing power.

He tells us silver and gold did not redeem us. If God would have used a billion dollar block of gold to redeem us, we would each be able to put a dollar value upon ourselves. We could say, “I am worth one billion dollars to God.” At first, that might seem like a lot, until we realize, it costs nothing for God to create more gold. If His supply ran short, He could speak galaxies of gold into existence. No, we were purchased with something of much greater value than precious metals; we have been redeemed with the blood of Christ. Anything else given to provide for our atonement, could have been replaced. God gave up the one thing, of the highest value, in order to save: He gave His only begotten Son.

The next time you are feeling like you don’t matter too much, don’t look around at how others view you, or even within, at how you feel about yourself. Instead, look back at the cross, and see how valuable you are to God, that He would purchase you with the blood of His Son. Then look up to the Throne and offer yourself to Him as a living sacrifice.

Pastor Jim

 

Let’s Make A Deal

Isaiah 1:18
“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.”

If it were possible to travel back to the time of Isaiah, I think we would be surprised by how religious the people were. At the temple in Jerusalem, sacrifices were being offered and the priests were busy about the work of the Lord. The hilltops throughout the land were laden with altars, and homes were filled with religious images. Prayer was perhaps at an all time high, and religious music filled the air waves. To an outside observer, it might seem that all was right in Israel. The problem was, although the people were passionately religious, they were not in a relationship with God. Isaiah wrote to explain the problem was with sin, and that religious activity is not the cure.

Many years have passed since Isaiah walked the streets of Jerusalem. Fashions have come and gone, technology, travel, and commerce, have made great strides, causing the world to look a lot different today than it did then. Even though much has changed, some things remain the same; we are still a people laden with sin and religious activity will not solve the problem. The message Isaiah delivered to Israel is the same message God declares today.

Isaiah 1:18
“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.”

Notice, God declares we are sinners. Earlier, Isaiah referred to us as being “laden with sin,” meaning we are overloaded by our sins. Perhaps that provokes images of a person strung out on drugs, or caught up in one vice or another. Keep in mind, Isaiah is writing to people who are listening to praise music and offering sacrifices. The reality we all must face is that we have sinned and no action of ours can remove our sin. That truth makes the reality of God’s invitation to us all the more amazing. He declares sinners can come to Him and have their sins washed away. All the guilt and penalty of sin can be removed by the simple act of coming to Him. Paul explains how this is possible.

Colossians 2:14
“Having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

What an amazing offer! All your sins can be washed away through the simple act of receiving Christ. No longer do you have to live with the guilt and shame of sin, nor do you need to keep striving with one attempt after another to find peace in religious actions. You can come to Christ and be forgiven.

It is my hope and prayer that you will take Him up on His offer.

Pastor Jim