“This Little Light…”

“You shall also make a lampstand of pure gold; the lampstand shall be of hammered work….  You shall make seven lamps for it, and they shall arrange its lamps so that they give light in front of it.  And its wick-trimmers and its trays shall be of pure gold.  It shall be made of a talent of pure gold, with all these utensils.  And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain, Exodus 25:31, 37-40 NKJV.

He also made the lampstand of pure gold; of hammered work he made the lampstand….    And he made its seven lamps, its wick-trimmers, and its trays of pure gold.  Of a talent of pure gold he made it, with all its utensils, Exodus 37:17, 23-24 NKJV.

This is the second piece of furniture in the holy place – the first compartment of the tabernacle.  It’s perhaps the most important piece, if “rank” can be assigned to these pieces, because by it the priest could see the other pieces and could see where he was and where he was going.

Scripture has a great deal to say about “light.”

One thing it says is in John 1:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it, vs. 1-4.

These verses tell us that God is the source of light, or, more specifically, “the Word,” the Lord Jesus, is that source.  In Genesis 1:3, God said, “Let there be light,” and created light as something distinct from Himself, who, Himself, is Light, 1 John 1:5.

John 1 further says that life itself is “light:”  the life was the light of men.  Life itself tells us that there is “more to life” than life.  This is spite of the fact that evolution tells us that man is just a sad, essentially useless cosmic accident, with no purpose or meaning.  This world and all that’s in it will wend its way through the ages that remain until the Sun, with its last dying gasp, flames out and extinguishes everything.

But man knows innately that there is something more “out there.”  How many religions and philosophies there are which want “to ascend,” want to leave this physical plane for some “spiritual” something or other that is said to be superior to, and “beyond,” ordinary life.

_______________

1. Light guides us.

I’m thinking here of the old sailing days, before GPS and all the electronic gadgets that we have.  Old time sailors were not without their own navigational aids in the stars and Sun and lighthouses and a lot of knowledge that I’m afraid is pretty much lost to us.  We can’t hardly go to the corner store without consulting Alexa or some other electronic device.  Even then, our eyes are glued to our phones, to the extent that, according to the latest news,  “distracted driving” has become a major problem and is an increasing cause of traffic accidents and deaths.

To the old-timers, a lighthouse was a welcome sight.

Scripture also guides us and gives us some indication as well as to what is “out there.”  It tells us that there is indeed more to life than life and that when this life is over, life itself is not over.

There’s a story told of a little country church that was surrounded by fields belonging to an atheist.  The church wasn’t air-conditioned and, in warm weather, had to have its windows open.  One spring, this atheist planted his fields on a Sunday, plowed and tended them especially on Sunday when the church was in session, and, finally, harvested them on a Sunday.   After he was done, he wrote to the editor of the local paper:  “I planted my fields on  Sunday, took care of them on Sunday, and harvested them on Sunday.  I didn’t pay any attention to god and I had a bumper crop this September!  What do you think about that?”  The editor printed the letter, but then answered, “My friend, God doesn’t settle His accounts in September.”

“God doesn’t settle His accounts in September.”  But He will settle them!

It is appointed to men to die once, but after this the judgment, Hebrews 9:27, emphasis added.

2. Light discovers.

You can see stuff in the light that is hidden in the darkness.  That’s why, almost invariably, when people go into a dark room, even a familiar one, they turn on the light.   In the same way, Scripture lights up the darkness of this world so that we can see things to avoid – or to receive.

I heard someone the other day who called Christians, “God’s flashlights.”  That’s not a bad analogy.  We’re here to shine in the darkness of this world, in order to guide people to the light of the Gospel.

3. Light can be overpowering.

When I was in Bible College, one of my fellow-students in the dorm, if I remember the wattage correctly, decided to get a 1000 watt light bulb.  It’s been over 50 years, but I remember vividly that when you walked into the room and turned on the light, it almost knocked you over, it was so bright.  Needless to say, the administration took a dim view of this and made him get a smaller bulb!

This is what happened to Saul of Tarsus as he was intent on wiping out the name of Jesus.  On the road to Damascus, with no thought of anything but that, he saw “a light from heaven, brighter than the Sun, shining around him and his party.  It turned him and his life completely around, to the point that he was preaching salvation through the very Name that he had just a day or so before tried to destroy!

He saw the Light and it overpowered him.

That’s what light does to the darkness.  It doesn’t negotiate with it.  It doesn’t try to “woo” it or reason with it.  It simply shines, and the darkness is gone!

4. Light isn’t always welcome.

God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed, John 3:17-20, emphasis added.

Men don’t like to be told they’re sinners, or that, apart from the Lord Jesus, they stand condemned in the sight of God.  They want to believe the devil’s lie that they’re all right.  As the saying was, a few years ago, “I’m ok, you’re ok.”  The problem is that, apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, I’m not ok, and neither are you.

The Lord Jesus has come and turned on the light!

What does it reveal?

Have folks come to the Light?

Or have they, like rats and roaches, scuttled back into the darkness?

Thank the Lord, many have indeed come to it, but many more have rejected it.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven,”  Matthew 5;16.

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” Acts 16:31.

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“The Bread of Life”

“You shall also make a table of acacia wood;  …And you shall set the showbread on the table before Me always,” Exodus 25:23, 30 NKJV.

This table was about three feet long, a foot and a half wide, and a little over two feet high, covered with gold and with gold decorations and molding around its top.  We’re not so much interested in the table itself, as we are in what was put onto the table:  the showbread.

Along with their part of the animal sacrifices, the showbread was part of the priests’ provision, although we’re not told how, cf. Mark 2:26.  We’re not given a great deal of information about its preparation, except that during Solomon’s reign, it was replaced weekly by some of the sons of the Kohathites while still warm from the oven, 1 Chronicles 9:32; 1 Samuel 21:6.  There are records of it being on the table as late as the time of Nehemiah, Nehemiah 10:33.

But we’re not so much interested in that as we are in a confrontation our Lord had with some of His contemporaries centuries later, as recorded in John 6.

John 6 is a difficult chapter to understand, on several levels.  The Jews who heard Him had difficulty with it and a whole church ritual is built on a misunderstanding of part of it.  Here is that part:

Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.  Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”

Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”

Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”

…………

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead.  This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die.  I am the living bread which came down from heaven.  If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”

The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”

Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.  Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.  For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.  He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me and I in him.  As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father,  so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.  This is the bread which came down from heaven – not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead.  He who eats this bread will live forever.”

These things He said as He taught in the synagogue in Capernaum.

Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said; “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” John 6:26-29, 48-60 NKJV.

This quote breaks into the middle of the conversation.  Though there is much in this chapter, we’re interested only in that part where Jesus said He was the bread of life, and talks about eating His flesh and drinking His blood.

There is another Scripture we must add to the mix:

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”

Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink for it, all of you.  For this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.  [And lest folks later get the wrong idea about what these elements were, He continued,]  But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” Matthew 6:26-29 NKJV.

There is another whole discussion about these verses we’ll not get into, except to say that our Lord isn’t declaring that these elements become His flesh and blood, nor is He saying that, in some ethereal way or another, His flesh and blood are along side these elements.  He is only saying that these elements represent His flesh and blood.

This brings us back to the showbread and our comment that it was part of the priest’s provision.

When Jesus said, “I am the bread of life,” He was telling those who heard Him, and us, that He – and He alone – is the provision that will give us eternal life.

Well, then, how do we “partake”?

In answer to a question from His contentious audience in John 6, He told us:

“This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent,” John 6:29.

“Believe”….

There seems to be a whole cottage industry built around that word.  I see posters and pictures and potholders which tell me to “Believe.”

What I’m to believe isn’t mentioned.

But the only “belief” that will do any good spiritually is belief – faith – in the Lord Jesus Christ, who He was – the Incarnate Son of God, and what He did – took the place of believing sinners, enduring the wrath of the Father against their sins and forever discharging the debt they have because of those sins.

It’s futility – presumption – beyond description to believe that some little act of ours – some penance, some “good deed,” some charitable act, some routine or ritual – can take away even one sin, let along the innumerable number of which we are guilty.  It’s only because we’ve forgotten who God is, if we ever really knew, that we can believe such things.

If there was something we could do to pay for sin, then the death of Christ was unnecessary.  I hate even to write such a sentence.  But because we are helpless and our efforts hopeless, the Lord Jesus took pity on us and took our place on the Cross.

He is the Bread of Life.

But how little we feed on Him, which can only be done through the Word.  It alone tells us what we need to know about Him.  To read that Word, to meditate on it, to believe and trust it for our soul’s welfare – that is to “feed” on Him.

Have you partaken of Him by faith?  Do you trust Him and Him alone for the forgiveness of your sins and for the privilege of going to heaven one day?

If not, oh, that today you might see your need of Him and trust Him for your eternal benefit.

If yes, then rejoice and feed even more through His Word.

He is the Bread of Life.

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in him, Psalm 34:8.

Entering the Presence of God

At last, we will be able to push aside the fabric screen that serves as the door of tabernacle itself and step inside.

I don’t know how Aaron and his sons felt the first time they stepped into this building, but it should have taken their breath away.  They stepped into a treasure-room of pure gold with three beautiful, indescribable pieces of furniture.  I’m sure the descriptions we’ve read of them do not do them justice.

Beyond all that, though, this was the building in which God had said He would dwell and meet with them.  Of all the people of Israel, Aaron and his sons were the only one who had that privilege.

I wonder what he felt that first time?

What do we think of that privilege – that privilege of coming into the presence of God?

What our Lord said to His disciples when they questioned Him about His use of parables is applicable to us as well:

“Blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many righteous men and prophets desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it,” Matthew 13:16.

Generations of people, even entire civilizations, have come and gone without ever seeing or hearing the gospel, or any part of the Word, or even having the opportunity to see or hear.  Even at the present time, darkness covers much, if not most, of our globe.  Very few places have the light of the gospel and I’m afraid that light is flickering badly in the winds of wickedness that are sweeping through our cultures.

So, why have we been allowed the priceless privilege of hearing and seeing?

Our Lord answers in His prayer to the Father as recorded in Matthew 11:25-26:

At that time, Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and the prudent and have revealed them to babes.  Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight.”

Paul put it like this in 1 Corinthians 1:25-29:

For you see your calling, brethren, that no many wise according to the flesh, not many noble, are called.  But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence, emphasis added.

It is of God so that we may not take credit for it, as if it were of us.

Placed on Purpose

For the tabernacle he made boards of acacia wood, standing upright.
……….
two sockets under each of the boards.
……….
And he made bars of acacia wood:  five for the boards on one side of the tabernacle, five bars for the boards on the other side of the tabernacle, and bars for the boards of the tabernacle on the far side westward.  And he made the middle bar to pass through the boards from one end to the other.  He overlaid the boards with gold, made their rings of gold to be holders for the bars, and overlaid the bars with gold, Exodus 36:20, 24, 31-34 NKJV. 

Our last post described some of the details of the boards which made up the tabernacle itself.  This framework was covered on the outside by several curtains.  Those individual boards and foundation sockets made up a single unit – the tabernacle.

This unity made up of individuals makes me think of another unity made up of individuals – the church.

What “unity”?

I’m thinking here of how it’s meant to be, not how it’s worked out.  Satan has indeed very successfully sown tares among the wheat, Matthew 13:25.

“The church” has nothing whatever to do with buildings.  The term is meant to describe the people who might meet in that building, but the building itself is irrelevant.

Scripture describes the church as both an organism – the body of Christ – and an organizationthe assembly.  The body is described in 1 Corinthians 12:12, 13,

For as the [human] body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one, so also is Christ.  For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…. 

This is the “organism,” and there’s only one.

Our son-in-law has opportunity to minister overseas occasionally, in fact, he and our daughter are over there right now.  Some of the people from there have been able to visit here.  We met them.  Never met them before and probably will never meet them again in this life, but there was a kinship between us, nevertheless.  We are all members of “the body.”

This one worldwide organism is expressed in many, many local organizations: the local church:  the ekklesia, the assembly.  Great confusion and harm has been done to the cause of Christ because this distinction has been ignored or rejected.  There is no worldwide organization in Scripture, not to mention any names, no “world-wide church,” no denominational hierarchy, no “headquarters.” 

There’s just the local assembly.  

So, what does all this have to do with the tabernacle?

Just the idea of many boards making up one building.

In addition to 1 Corinthians 12:12, 13, Paul put it like this:

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.  There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.  And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.

If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body?  And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body?  If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing?  If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?  But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased, 1 Corinthians 12:4-6,15-18 NKJV.

The point is, no single board was unnecessary.  Each board had its place and function.  Likewise, no single believer is unnecessary.  Each believer has his or her own place and function.  Don’t miss the fact that Paul said, God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased, emphasis added.

It isn’t “hit or miss.”

It’s not just about Sunday, either.

It’s about Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday and Friday and Saturday, too.

It’s not without reason that believers are called light and salt.  We’re supposed to have an influence on the world around us.  That’s part of our place and purpose.  Politicians may tell us that it’s “alright” to be Christians in church on Sunday, but not the rest of the week, but the whole point of God saving us isn’t just so we can go to heaven when we die, but that we might have an effect, an influence, on the world in which we live.

This world needs Christian plumbers as well as Christian pastors, perhaps more.  It needs Christian store clerks and warehousemen and accountants and gas station attendants.

It needs people who will tell the clerk when she’s given them back too much change.

That’s our place.

Our purpose.

Foundations

“And for the tabernacle you shall make the boards of acacia wood, standing upright.  Ten cubits shall be the length of a board, and a cubit and a half shall be the width of each board.  Two tenons shall be in each board for binding one to another.  Thus you shall make for all the boards of the tabernacle.  And you shall make the boards for the tabernacle, twenty boards for the south side.  You shall make forty sockets of silver under the twenty boards: two sockets under each of the boards.  And for the second side of the tabernacle, the north side, there shall be twenty boards and their forty sockets of silver:  two sockets under each of the boards.  For the far side of the tabernacle, westward, you shall make six boards.  And you shall also make two boards for the two back corners.  They shall be coupled together at the bottom and they shall be coupled together at the top by one ring.  Thus it shall be for both of them.  They shall be at the two corners.  So there shall be eight boards with their sockets of silver – sixteen sockets – two sockets under each of the boards.

“And you shall make bars of acacia wood:  five for the boards on one side of the tabernacle, five bars for the boards on the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards on the side of the tabernacle, for the far side westward.  The middle bar shall pass though the midst of the boards from end to end.  You shall overlay the boards with gold, make their rings of gold as holders for the bars, and overlay the bars with gold.  And you shall raise up the tabernacle according to its pattern which you were shown on the mountain,” Exodus 26:15-30.

For the tabernacle he made boards of acacia wood, standing upright.  The length of each board was ten cubits, and the width of each board a cubit and a half.  Each board had two tenons for binding one to another.  Thus he made for all the boards of the tabernacle.  And he made boards for the tabernacle, twenty boards for the south side.  Forty sockets of silver he made to go under the twenty boards:  two sockets under each of the boards.  And for the other side of the tabernacle, the north side, he made twenty boards and their forty sockets of silver:  two sockets under each of the boards.  For the west side of the tabernacle he made six boards.  He also made two boards for the two back corners of the tabernacle.  And they were coupled together at the bottom and coupled together at the top by one ring.  Thus he made both of them for the two corners.  So there were eight boards and their sockets – sixteen sockets of silver – two sockets under each of the boards.

And he made bars of acacia wood:  five for the boards on one side of the tabernacle, five bars for the boards on the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the tabernacle on the far side westward.  And he made the middle bar to pass through the boards from one end to the other.  He overlaid the boards with gold, made their rings of gold to be holders for the bars, and  overlaid the bars with gold, Exodus 36:20-34 NKJV.

We’ve talked about the different curtains and screens that covered the tabernacle, but we can’t ignore the framework which held it up and together!  All these details may seem boring and difficult to read, but I think you’ll see some great and encouraging truths in them.

I know we’ve mentioned this before, but it’s important to remember that God is in the details.  From the tiniest atom to the largest galaxy, God is there.  Nothing escapes His notice or providence.  Who knows what big thing the tiniest detail may lead to?  God does.

That’s why it’s important to pay attention even to “boring” parts of the Bible.  God has a reason why they are there.  Our verses today might be considered to be in that group.

As we read, each board was 15 feet long and 27 inches wide.  Each board had two tenons on one end, each of which fit into a foundation socket of silver, which held it securely in the sand or soil of the wilderness.  Each corner was also just one board.  You do that by sawing the board with a diagonal cut down the middle.  Then you turn one half of the board over and the cuts fit together at a 90 degree angle.

We have to remember that this was a portable building, designed to be taken apart and moved from place to place.  At the same time, it was designed to be a stable building, built to withstand the wind and the weather.

The whole enterprise depended on its foundation, in this case, sockets of silver.  This is noteworthy because the sockets for the linen fence that enclosed the whole affair were bronze, or actually probably copper because bronze as we know it hadn’t been discovered yet.  The linen fence shut people out from the presence of God.  The fence spoke of “righteousness,” something only the Lord Jesus Christ ever had.  The bronze sockets spoke of God’s justice.  His righteousness, indeed, His whole being, is one of absolute and impeccable righteousness, justice and holiness.

Silver sockets speak of redemption, of “ransom,” as they were cast from the “ransom money” of the male Israelites.

Our Lord had something to say about “foundations.”  In Matthew 7, concluding His remarks in Matthew 5-7, He said,
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, I liken him to a wise man who built his house on a rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:  and the rain descended, the floods came and beat on that house; and it fell.  And great was its fall,”
vs. 24-27.

No wonder the people were astonished at His teaching.  The scribes and other teachers would never have dared to assert their own authority.  But this One has all authority.

Now, there are some things which might be said in favor of the foolish man.  It’s a lot easier to build on sand than to anchor a building on bedrock.  It’s also no doubt quicker.  It’s a lot less work and expense just to build on sand.  The foolish man would be able to enjoy his house much sooner than the man laboring away on the rock.  He could sit on his patio and laugh at his neighbor.

And, what people may not stop to think about, as long as the sun is shining one house is as good as the other.  It’s not until the rain and the floods and the wind come that the real value of the foundation is discovered.

So it is.  The worldling and the fool looks at the Christian and scoffs.  All that work!  All that going to church, reading the Bible, trying to live by old and outdated viewpoints!  What good are they?  And so, an openly gay professing Christian can run for President, people can come illegally into this country and be welcomed, we worry about the “constitutional rights” of convicted felons, while those who try to live according to Scripture are ridiculed and hounded, and the sun rises every morning and “life goes on.”

Nobody pays any attention.

But…

…the rain is coming,

the floods,

the wind.

They’re all coming.

The Door of Grace

“You shall make a screen for the door of the tabernacle, woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen, made by a weaver.  And you shall make for the screen five pillars of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold; their hooks shall be of gold, and you shall cast five sockets of bronze for them, Exodus 26:36, 37.

He also made a screen for the tabernacle door, of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen, made by a weaver, and its five pillars with their hooks.  And he overlaid their capitals and their rings with gold, but their five sockets were bronze, Exodus 37:37, 38 NKJV

We’ve looked at the various “doors” or entrances into the tabernacle in earlier posts, so will not go over that material again.  We want instead to focus on the five pillars which supported the fine woven linen screen on the way into the tabernacle itself.

There were five such pillars.

“Five” is the number of grace.

What is grace?

There are several definitions.

The best one is:  “God’s unmerited favor in spite of our merited disfavor.”

In other words, we don’t deserve it, it’s unmerited.  But we do deserve God’s disfavor, His wrath and judgment.

Or just the three words, “In spite of.”

“In spite of” our rebellion…

…our religion.

I don’t believe in coincidences.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this post and “Good Friday” are on the same day.  I did not plan it that way. 

This is the day that the religious world has declared to be the day Christ died on the Cross.  While I don’t see how it’s possible to fit the “three days and three nights” our Lord said He would be in the tomb between Friday evening and Sunday morning, Matthew 12:40, the thing is, He rose from the dead.

 “We serve a risen Savior.”

No other religion can say that. 

“Three days and three nights” might have been for the Jews.  We do read in Acts that the early church  preached the resurrection: Acts 1:22; 2:31; 4:2; 4:33; 17:18, 32; 23;6, 8; 24:15, 21.  It was their main focus.  The Jews had 40 years of preaching by the church between the resurrection and the destruction of their nation in 70 AD.  They rejected that message and the nation disappeared for 1878 years.  

Five pillars.

Grace.

Wonderful truth.

Saving truth.

By grace you have been saved by faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:8 NKJV.

Blood and Water

As I was mulling over the title for this post, I was not thinking of 1 John 1, though I did think of it immediately after.  The title comes from the two items in the courtyard of the tabernacle:  the bronze altar and the laver.  It is these I was thinking about with the title.  In our last post, we talked about entering the courtyard, something there’s no evidence that the ordinary Israelite could do.  He had business at the bronze altar if he had a sacrifice, and he could probably see the bronze laver, but he couldn’t approach it.

We want to look more closely at these two items ourselves as we journey inward.

The Bronze Altar

In Leviticus 1, we read part of God’s instruction to Moses about the various sacrifices:

“If his offering is a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD.  Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him.  He shall kill the bull before the LORD; and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood and sprinkle the blood all around the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of meeting,” Leviticus 1:3-6 NKJV.

By the way and simply because I’ve heard it used like this:  the expression his free will” is not making a doctrinal statement about man’s will; it simply means that the offering was voluntary, as opposed to those offerings which were required.

These verses tell us that the one bringing the sacrifice was not a passive onlooker to what was going on, but he was an active participant.  At the least, he had to put his hand on the head of the animal being sacrificed, and the text reads as though he had to kill it, v. 4.  The text down through v. 8 indicates he might also have had parts in the other proceedings.  We’ll stay with some thoughts about v. 4.

He put his hand on the head of the animal.  Doing so, the man was identifying with the animal as the one atoning for the man’s sin.  The man was saying, in effect, “I deserve to die, but you are taking my place.  You are my substitute.”

He also, it seems, had to kill the animal.  In this, the man was saying, “I’m killing you; my sin is killing you.  You are my sacrifice.”

Substitution.

Sacrifice.

Two essential elements in the OT sacrificial system.

Two essential elements in the death of the Lord Jesus.

I asked a fellow once, “What did Jesus do on the Cross?”

Beside the fact that Jesus died, the fellow didn’t seem to have very much idea.

The simple fact is that Christ died for sin, not His own because He had none, but for the sin of others.  He took their place.  As the animal died instead of the individual Israelite, so the Lord died in place of individual sinners.  He was their Substitute.

The Israelite was guilty of sin.  So are we, and the wages of sin is death, Romans 3:23.  The animal was sacrificed to take his place.  We are guilty of sin and death is our reward, both physically and spiritually, if we die without the Lord Jesus as our Redeemer and Savior.  We will die physically unless the Lord comes back before then.  If you’ve recently lost a loved one, I’m sorry.  I don’t mean to add to your grief.

And apart from the Lord Jesus, we are already “dead in trespasses and sins,” Ephesians 2:1, already “dead spiritually.”  And apart from the Lord Jesus, we are already guilty before God.  The common idea that we’ll have to wait until the Judgment to find out our “fate” is false; it’s already set – apart from the Lord Jesus:

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God, John 3:18 emphasis added.

He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him, John 3:36 emphasis added.

Not “the love of God,” as so often and falsely taught today, but the wrath of God.

Only in the Lord Jesus does one have any “claim” on the love of God.  Apart from Him, there is only wrath.

Apart from the Lord Jesus, there is no hope and no future.  There is no “better place.”

He is our Substitute, our Sacrifice.

The second item of furniture in the courtyard was the laver, for the daily and continual cleansing of the priests as they went about their duties.

We, too, though forgiven, also need daily cleansing from the increasing pollution and filth of this world.  As the Israelite was made unclean just by contact with things which were unclean, so we, in contact with this world, are made unclean by its actions and philosophies and need to be cleansed.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, Acts 16:31.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, 1 John 1:9.