From Jim McGuiggan... Correct views or warm righteousness? (2)

Correct views or warm righteousness? (2)

Because it’s true that God desires mercy (covenant love that expresses itself in kindness and justice toward the neighbour) rather than the keeping of ordinances, people are tempted to dismiss ordinances as close to irrelevant in the lives of believers (OT or NT).

You can’t read the OT without seeing that the prophets rebuked the people for substituting religious ordinances for lives of faith-filled obedience. Micah 6:6-8, Isaiah 58:1-7 and Amos 5:21-24 illustrate this well and see Psalm 40:6-8 and 51:6-17.

So why didn’t Israel simply dismiss ordinances altogether? Why didn’t they say, “God really wants heartfelt allegiance to him and lives of righteousness and kindness so let’s forget all the things like circumcision, Sabbath observance, Passover and such”?

Wise men and women who are at home in the Scriptures and biblical theology would be able to give us a long list of good reasons why they didn’t but the rank and file of us have a couple of obvious ones we can rest on.

For one, God instituted these ordinances and whether the Jews understood all his wise reasons for doing so it wasn’t for them to debate with their King. God is a great King and as such he must be honoured even in the matter of ordinances (compare Malachi 1:6-14).

Secondly, ordinances that embodied truths about God’s self-disclosure proclaimed things about God! It’s true that the fundamental truths about God were lived out in how they lived in honour and justice with each other but ordinances like circumcision, Passover, Ingathering, Tabernacles and Sabbath gave meaning to their community living. Circumcision reminded them that they were children of Abraham and covenanted with God through him by grace. Passover reminded them that they were a people redeemed by grace from national oppression and so forth.

There were non-elect Gentiles that treated one another with neighbourly kindness and justice (compare Romans 2:14-16) but they had no mark of circumcision saying they were the elect of God, they had no Passover saying they have been the object of a gracious redemption and they had no Sabbath to signify election and God’s total provision. If the lives of non-elect people like Ruth the Moabite were compared with other fine Jewish women they would all be admired for their gentleness and generosity of spirit.

The ordinances spoke their truthful message about God even if Israel abused them! The ordinances spoke a condemnation on Israel when Israel refused to live up to the meaning of those ordinances. The ordinances proclaimed truths about God and his character and purpose as surely as the lovely lives of obedient and faith-filled Israelites did.

We don’t learn to despise or think little of the ordinances of God from the Bible because they shape the believer’s understanding of his/her life of obedience. The ordinances proclaim the soil out of which their virtue takes it rise. The believing Jew would tell the world of Passover and Sabbath and the Christian world tell the world of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper because the ordinances were a witness to God and his work (see 1 Corinthians 11:26). While a life pursuit of holiness, righteousness and kindness is an indispensable marker of the believer it is not to be severed from the God-appointed ordinances which shape the identity of God’s people and the nature of their pursuit of holiness.

“But who cares why we are virtuous and righteous or what kind of religious soil they spring from? Is it not enough that we all treat one another decently and with justice?”

I’ve heard that question expressed hundreds of times in my life. I’ve often asked it! For those who have little time for religion (but who nevertheless live on the bread brought to the world via the Hebrew—Christian scriptures)—for those who have little time for religious ordinances, their theological meaning and witness are wholly irrelevant. “Look at me! I live as well as any of you religious people so it’s clear I can get along very well without your ‘truth’ and ordinances.” I’ve often heard that too from decent and upright people who weren’t speaking in arrogance but in honest debate.

With many others I would answer that God is at work in their lives whether they acknowledge him or not and that our faith and ordinances included proclaim truth about God that their lives without faith or ordinances do not. [To be continued, God enabling.]

©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.

Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabidingword.com.

From Mark Copeland... The Earthly Sanctuary (Hebrews 9:1-10)

                      "THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS"

                     The Earthly Sanctuary (9:1-10)


1. The main points in the "The Epistle To The Hebrews" are rather 
   a. The superiority of Christ - He 1:1-7:28
   b. The superiority of the New Covenant - He 8:7-10:18

2. In the "transition passage" of He 8:1-6, we find...
   a. The first point summarized - He 8:1
   b. The second point introduced - He 8:2-6

3. In demonstrating the superiority of the New Covenant, three points
   are made...
   a. The New Covenant is based upon "better promises"
   b. The New Covenant pertains to a "better sanctuary"
   c. The New Covenant provides a "better sacrifice"

4. In He 8:7-13 we read of the "better promises"...
   a. Foretold through the prophet Jeremiah - cf. Jer 31:31-34
   b. In which God promised a closer relationship with His people, made
      possible by the forgiveness of sin

5. In chapter nine, our attention is now drawn to the matter of the 
   "better sanctuary" provided by the New Covenant...
   a. To appreciate the author's argument, we must be acquainted with 
      the sanctuary of the first covenant
   b. Therefore we find a brief discussion concerning "The Earthly 
      Sanctuary" - He 9:1-10

[We could turn back to the books of Exodus and Leviticus to read about
the earthly sanctuary, but in our text we find a helpful and concise 
summary.  Beginning with...]


      1. This was the first part of the tabernacle, in which the 
         priests entered daily
      2. Inside of it were...
         a. The lampstand - cf. Exo 25:31-40; 26:35
            1) Placed next to the south wall of the tabernacle
            2) Made of gold and had seven lamps for burning olive oil
            3) It was never allowed to go out
         b. The table and the showbread - Exo 25:23-30; 26:35; Lev 24:
            1) A table overlaid with gold
            2) On which were kept twelve loaves of bread, in two rows
               of six
            3) Fresh loaves were brought in each Sabbath, and the old
               were eaten by the priests - cf. 1Sa 21:3-6; Mt 12:3,4

      1. This was the part of the tabernacle behind the veil, also
         called "The Most Holy" - Exo 26:31-33
      2. This innermost room of the tabernacle, the holiest place in
         the worship of Israel, had...
         a. The golden altar of incense (golden censor, KJV)
            1) The golden altar of incense was actually in the Holy 
               Place, just on the other side of the veil separating the
               two rooms - Exo 30:1-10
               a) On this altar sweet spices were continually burned
                  with fire taken from the brazen altar (which was
                  outside the tabernacle)
               b) The morning and evening services were begun by the
                  high priest offering incense on this altar
               c) Once a year, the High Priest would take a censer of
                  burning coals from this altar along with incense into
                  the The Most Holy Place - Lev 16:12
            2) It is appropriate to say the The Most Holy Place "had"
               the golden altar...
               a) For the smoke of the daily incense would permeate 
                  through the veil, and as such be "a perpetual incense
                  before the LORD" - Exo 30:8
               b) The annual ceremony on the Day of Atonement connected
                  in a tangible way the altar of incense with The Most
                  Holy Place - Lev 16:12
         b. The ark of the covenant
            1) A chest made of acacia wood, about four feet long by two
               and half feet high and wide - Exo 25:10-16
            2) Covered with gold, it was the most sacred thing in the
            3) In it contained...
               a) The golden pot that had the manna - Exo 16:32-34
               b) Aaron's rod that budded - Num 17:1-11
               c) The tablets of the covenant - Deut 10:1-5
            4) Covering the ark was the mercy seat - Exo 25:17-22
               a) This lid, covered with gold, was topped with two 
                  cherubim (with wings stretched upward, and their 
                  faces "toward each other and toward the mercy seat.")
               b) The Lord was said to appear in a cloud above the 
                  mercy seat - Lev 16:2; Num 7:89; 2Ki 19:5

[As stated by the author himself, "of these things we cannot now speak
in detail". But a little more is now said regarding the ritual of the
earthly sanctuary...]


      1. Every morning and evening, the priests would go into The Holy
         Place "performing the services"...
         a. They would trim the lamps on the lampstand - Exo 27:20-21
         b. They would offer incense on the altar of incense - Exo 30:
      2. On the Sabbath, the priests would replace the Showbread - Lev 25:4-9
      -- But none went into The Most Holy Place during these daily

      1. Once a year, only the high priest entered The Most Holy Place 
         - Lev 16:2
         a. On the Day of Atonement
         b. The tenth day of the seventh month - Lev 16:29
      2. The high priest would do three things:
         a. Offer the incense to cloud the mercy seat - Lev 16:12-13
         b. Sprinkle the mercy seat with the blood of a bull, as a sin
            offering for himself and his family - Lev 16:11,14
         c. Sprinkle the mercy seat with the blood of a goat, as a sin
            offering for the people - Lev 16:15
      3. In this way he offered blood for his own sins and those of the
         people committed in ignorance - He 9:7

[With this summary of the ritual of the earthly sanctuary, we are 
reminded of the sort of services rendered under the first covenant. But
what was the true purpose of such service?  And did the sacrifices 
provide complete redemption?  These questions are addressed in the next
three verses...]

      1. As already stated, the tabernacle and its service was "a copy
         and shadow of the heavenly things" - He 8:4-5; cf. He 10:1a;
         Col 2:16-17
      2. Thus it was "symbolic for the present time" - He 9:9
         a. Symbolizing what eventually would occur when Christ came
         b. Symbolizing what Christ has now done in reality when He 
            entered heaven - cf. He 9:11-12,24-26
      3. The Holy Spirit was thus indicating that "the way into heaven
         itself was not yet made manifest" - He 9:8

      1. The gifts and sacrifices could not make one perfect in regard
         to the conscience - He 9:9; cf. He 9:14; 10:1-4
      2. The ceremonies involved "fleshly ordinances imposed until the
         time of reformation" - He 9:10
         a. Just as the sanctuary was "earthly", the ordinances were 
            1) In contrast to that which is heavenly, spiritual
            2) Indeed, all of the ritual was designed to impact the 
               physical side of man
               a) I.e., his senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch)
               b) E.g., the burning of incense, the blowing of 
                  trumpets, the vestments
         b. Such ordinances were designed to be temporary
            1) Until "the time of reformation", when changes in worship
               would be made
            2) Indeed, now God expects "spiritual" worship - cf. Jn 4:
               a) Worship that is more in keeping with God's true 
                  nature (Spirit)
               b) Worship that focuses on the inner man
                  1/ E.g., singing, where the emphasis is on melody 
                     made in the heart - Ep 5:19; Col 3:16
                  2/ Even in the Lord's Supper, which has physical
                     elements, the emphasis is on the communion we
                     share in the body of and blood of Jesus as we
                     commemorate His death - 1Co 11:23-26; 10:16-17
         -- Therefore we should not be surprised to learn that the
            early church did not simply institute the fleshly
            ordinances of the first covenant into their worship


1. The earthly sanctuary and its fleshly ordinances served God's
   purpose well...
   a. It revealed the terrible nature and high price of sin
   b. It revealed the need for the shedding of blood to provide the 
      remission of sin
   c. It prepared people for the coming of the ultimate sacrifice and 
      complete redemption

2. But as useful as it was, it was temporary and symbolic...
   a. A copy and shadow of what was to come
   b. Designed to vanish away when what it represented came to pass

3. As we shall see more fully in our next study...
   a. Christ has come and entered into "the greater and more perfect 
   b. He has "obtained eternal redemption"
   c. He has made it possible to "purge your conscience from dead 
      works to serve the living God"

Why would one ever wish to go back to the earthly sanctuary and its 
fleshly ordinances?  Why do some people wish to introduce Old Testament
practices into the worship of the Lord's church?

It can only be a failure to appreciate what we now have in Christ, and
the kind of worshippers God now desires.  As Jesus told the Samaritan
woman at the well...

   "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will
   worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking
   such to worship Him.  God is Spirit, and those who worship Him
   must worship in spirit and truth." (Jn 4:23-24)

Are we worshipping God the way He desires?  Or whatever way that
appeals to our fleshly senses and personal desires?

Brethren, think on these things...
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From Gary... Bible Reading March 14

Bible Reading  

March 14

The World English Bible

Mar. 14
Exodus 24

Exo 24:1 He said to Moses, "Come up to Yahweh, you, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship from a distance.
Exo 24:2 Moses alone shall come near to Yahweh, but they shall not come near, neither shall the people go up with him."
Exo 24:3 Moses came and told the people all the words of Yahweh, and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, "All the words which Yahweh has spoken will we do."
Exo 24:4 Moses wrote all the words of Yahweh, and rose up early in the morning, and built an altar under the mountain, and twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel.
Exo 24:5 He sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of cattle to Yahweh.
Exo 24:6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar.
Exo 24:7 He took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people, and they said, "All that Yahweh has spoken will we do, and be obedient."
Exo 24:8 Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, "Look, this is the blood of the covenant, which Yahweh has made with you concerning all these words."
Exo 24:9 Then Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up.
Exo 24:10 They saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was like a paved work of sapphire stone, like the skies for clearness.
Exo 24:11 He didn't lay his hand on the nobles of the children of Israel. They saw God, and ate and drank.
Exo 24:12 Yahweh said to Moses, "Come up to me on the mountain, and stay here, and I will give you the tables of stone with the law and the commands that I have written, that you may teach them."
Exo 24:13 Moses rose up with Joshua, his servant, and Moses went up onto God's Mountain.
Exo 24:14 He said to the elders, "Wait here for us, until we come again to you. Behold, Aaron and Hur are with you. Whoever is involved in a dispute can go to them."
Exo 24:15 Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain.
Exo 24:16 The glory of Yahweh settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. The seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud.
Exo 24:17 The appearance of the glory of Yahweh was like devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel.
Exo 24:18 Moses entered into the midst of the cloud, and went up on the mountain; and Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.

From Gary... Vitameatavegamin

I know, I know- this isn't a great picture; but for those who have seen this episode, it is among the best work she (Lucille Ball) ever did!!! And it was funny!!! I enjoy a good laugh and being around people who love to enjoy life and I wonder... did Jesus ever laugh? Well, I don't know of anywhere in the New Testament that says he did, but if he did, it probably was at this occasion...

John, Chapter 2
 1 The third day, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there. 2 Jesus also was invited, with his disciples, to the marriage.  3 When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no wine.” 

  4  Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with you and me? My hour has not yet come.” 

  5  His mother said to the servants, “Whatever he says to you, do it.”  6 Now there were six water pots of stone set there after the Jews’ way of purifying, containing two or three metretes apiece.  7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the water pots with water.” They filled them up to the brim.  8 He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the ruler of the feast.” So they took it.  9 When the ruler of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and didn’t know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the ruler of the feast called the bridegroom,  10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when the guests have drunk freely, then that which is worse. You have kept the good wine until now!”

Weddings are a time of rejoicing, a time of merriment and laughter. Perhaps the wine had something to do with that, perhaps not, but the situation was a happy one, nonetheless. That Jesus' first miracle was turning water into wine (and good wine at that) says something about him personally. Yes, I do think he laughed (even though I can't prove it) and I encourage you do to the same today. What was that old saying? Something like... Laughter is the best medicine!!!  One thing is undisputed- it is better than vitameatavegamin!!!