Restitution

Leviticus 5:16
“And he shall make restitution for the harm that he has done in regard to the holy thing, and shall add one-fifth to it and give it to the priest. So the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him.”

IMG_1479The first five chapters of Leviticus introduce us to five offerings; a part of Israel’s worship. The first three were free will offerings, meaning the individual gave of his own volition. The final two were compulsory. There was no relationship with God without the sin and trespass offerings.

The sin offering points to the work of Christ on the cross. As a Lamb without spot or blemish, Jesus went to the cross to once and for all, pay for the sins of humanity. His blood was spilled, and the offering was accepted. We know this because of His resurrection from the dead, ascension to Heaven’s throne, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon His church. The trespass offering also points to the work of Christ. John taught that because Christ was sacrificed for us, we can confess our sins, and receive forgiveness. Confession is a necessary part of walking with the Lord. When we fail, we need to go to the Throne of Grace, confess our failure, and receive His cleansing. The trespass offering reminds us, when certain sins are committed, the offering must include “restitution.” The priest determined the amount of the restitution, depending upon the sin that was committed.

It was not as though the person was buying their way out of sin, but pointed to the fact that sometimes sin, while forgiven, is still very costly. Jesus may have been referring to the trespass offering when He said, “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24). At times, the cost of our sinful action is a breach in relationship with others.

While relationship with God is restored when we confess, relationship with others may need additional attention. If my actions have hurt, offended or stumbled another brother, it is important that I go out of my way to do whatever is within my power to see that relationship restored.

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

 

Instead Of Me

Genesis 22:2
“Then He said, ‘Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’”

2015/01/img_1318-1.jpgJesus declared the whole Bible testified of Him. Sometimes, the testimony is the form of prophecy, other times, it is in the form of a type, or illustration. Here, we find a vivid illustrative picture of the cross of Christ. Let’s examine the details.

Abraham was instructed to take his only son, whom he loved, on a three day journey to Moriah, and offer him as a burnt offering. Upon arriving, his son, who would have been close to twenty years old, willingly allowed himself to be tied to the altar. Just as the knife was approaching his throat, God spoke and provided a ram as a substitute for Isaac. We see many parallels to the cross.

First, the sending of Jesus was a plan orchestrated in the council chambers of heaven. In other words, it was the plan of God. Peter declared, Jesus was crucified according to “the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23).

Second, it was the only Son of God who was sent as the ransom for mankind. The Psalmist declared the salvation of the soul is costly (Psalm 49:8). At the cross we see just how costly. No angel, man, or amount of cash, would suffice to pay for the sins of the world. Nothing short of the blood of God would be sufficient. Peter wrote,

“. . . 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.” 1Peter 1:18-19

Third, the crucifixion took place on the mountain range of Moriah, where Jesus willingly offered Himself as the sacrifice for humanity. Jesus had openly declared, no one could take His life from Him but that He would willingly lay it down (John 10:18). We read, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus surrendered to the will of the Father, and submitted to the cross. He was taken by force, condemned, beaten, and crucified to provide forgiveness for our sins.

At this point, Isaac no longer serves as a picture of Christ, but as a picture of mankind. As the knife approaches his throat, God stops Abraham’s hand, and we see two things vividly. First, God will have nothing to do with human sacrifice. That is not how the wrath of God is appeased. Second, no sacrifice, no matter how great, can cover our sin; there must be a substitute. In the bushes, a ram is caught, and becomes the substitute for Isaac. A promise is then given for all of mankind that God would later provide Himself as the substitute for our sins (Genesis 22:8).

Whatever joy must have filled the heart of Abraham, knowing that his son was rescued, pales in comparison to the joy that we should celebrate, knowing that Christ took our place and paid for all our sins.

Pastor Jim

 

Offering

Genesis 4:2-5
“Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.”

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b9a/30989304/files/2015/01/img_1288.jpgAs the drama of Genesis unfolds, we are introduced to two of Adam’s sons, and given a glimpse into their lives and occupations. Abel, the younger, was a shepherd, while his older brother Cain was a farmer. It was not their occupations, but their character that determined their destinies. We read, Abel brought an offering of the flocks, while Cain brought the fruit of the ground; God respected Abel’s offering and rejected Cain’s. The question we must answer is why? What was wrong with Cain’s offering?

Two things stand out to me from the story. First off, back in the garden, God had already shown He rejected fig leaves as an acceptable covering for sin. Instead, He established a system of substitutionary sacrifice. This system will be further developed throughout Scripture, but will never change. We will see it in the Levitical system, established at Sinai, and it will have its ultimate fulfillment in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Never will the work of our own hands be a sufficient covering for sin.

The second aspect of this story which stands out, is the reason a substitute is necessary. Cain brought the fruit of the ground because he did not understand the far reaching effects of sin. He looked at his crops that represented hours of care and labor and thought they were an acceptable offering. This was because he failed to see they were grown in fallen dirt. As good as those vegetables may have been, at their core, they bore marks of the fall. The same is true with all works. My very best efforts are always tainted with sin.

From the beginning, God established a way for sinful man to have relationship with Him, and from the beginning, men have been trying to come their own way. The way to God is paved for us by the cross; entrance is as simple as trusting that Jesus died in our place. Isn’t it time to trust in Christ, instead of clinging to your own goodness as a means to access God?

It has been, and always will be, about His amazing grace

Pastor Jim

 

The Lord’s Cow

Malachi 1:8
“And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, Is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, Is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor!
Would he be pleased with you?
Would he accept you favorably?
Says the Lord of hosts.”

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b9a/30989304/files/2014/12/img_1266.jpgYears ago, I heard a story of a farmer whose cow, after a long and arduous labor, gave birth to twins. He ran into the farmhouse to give the news to his wife, who reminded him of the goodness of God and encouraged him to give one of the calves to the Lord. He agreed immediately, but took some time to make the decision as to which calf would be his and which one would belong to the Lord. After a few weeks, one of the young cows fell ill and the faithful farmer spent the night caring for it. Early the next morning the farmer entered the house and was met by his wife who asked what happened. With a voice filled with sorrow he responded, “The Lord’s calf died.”

When it comes to giving, we often follow the example of the farmer. We pass on to the Lord what we no longer need. The church I first attended had a ministry to Mexico and would collect items to be taken down and given to the needy. Before the items were delivered, it was always necessary to go through the boxes and bags and filter out the “dead cows.” It was astonishing how often boxes would be filled with torn clothing or single shoes. It is almost as though, it was easier for some people to drop stuff at the church, than to take it to the dump, where it belonged. We have all heard the phrase, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” Perhaps we should learn a similar phrase, “one man’s junk is sometimes junk.”

When it comes to giving to the Lord, we should’nt just give what we do not want or need. We should give our best. I have been blessed over the years, to see so many people at our church give of their time, talents and treasures, to further the Kingdom of God. Remember you cannot take it with you, but you can send it on ahead. One of the greatest ways to store up treasures in heaven, is to invest in the work of the Lord.

Pastor Jim