Monday, July 23, 2012

The Root and Foundation

An excerpt from my notes on the feasts of Israel
            Sacrifice, of some kind, was required with the observance of every feast under the old covenant.  The types and amounts of animals varied from feast to feast but generally there was a burnt offering and a sin offering.  The main purpose of a burnt offering was to be “an aroma pleasing to the LORD” (Lev. 1:9, 13, 17).  For this offering, the entire animal was burned on the altar.  The sin offering was made to make atonement for the people (Lev. 4:20, 26, 31, 35).  These offerings had to be made during every feast because of Israel’s continuing sinfulness.  They could not relate to God or participate in His feasts unless sin was dealt with and God was satisfied.
            Jesus’s one sacrifice was sufficient for all time and beyond.  On the cross He fulfilled every burnt offering and sin offering pictured in the Old Testament. In Him, there is no need for repeated sacrifice.  Why then is the cross pictured at every feast through the offerings that were commanded?  It is because our participation in any aspect of Christ depends on the cross.  We can only be united to His resurrection if we are united to His death (Rom. 6:5).  Sharing His anointing depends on His atonement.  And God couldn’t tabernacle or dwell in us unless His temple was destroyed and raised in three days (John 2:19-22).
            It isn’t just that the cross is a first step that we have to start with.  We cannot move on from the cross any more that a tree can move from its root or a building from its foundation.  This is why, even in the type, the Lord keeps the cross continually before us.  It is as if He is saying, “If I hadn’t died you would have no part in me” (cf. John 13:8). 
Painting by Patrick Murphy:

            Since the cross is the bedrock of all God has done, we must keep our feet on the ground of it, especially as we know Jesus in the more exalted aspects of His life.  Christ, our risen, anointed King still has His wounds.  The Holy Spirit must mark us with the cross in such a way that we never leave the wounds of Christ, even as we experience the freedom of His resurrection, the power of His anointing, the authority of His crown.  In fact, we must see His wounds as the source of everything else that we experience in Him and learn to value them as the headwaters of spiritual life.  If the cross is not ever before us and hasn’t indelibly marked our hearts, we will have a false sense of where God’s life, power, authority, and blessing come from.  We will think these divine things come because we are spiritual, and because God is rewarding us for “doing it right.”  But if we experience any spiritual life and power, it is only because we are in Christ who died on the cross to make our participation possible.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Living Tabernacles

An excerpt from my notes about the Feast of Tabernacles:  

         During the Feast of Tabernacles, the Israelites were to live in tent-like structures called tabernacles or booths as a reminder that the Lord had them dwell in booths when He brought them out of Egypt (Lev. 23:42, 43).  The Lord also dwelled in the Tent of Meeting, located in the center of Israel’s camp.  The words “tabernacles” and “booths” are two ways to translate the Hebrew word twks (“sukkot”).  The word “sukkot” denotes temporary shelters made by weaving branches together.  Coupling this with Jesus’s teaching in John 15 gives us an image of the Lord and His people dwelling in union: “I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit” (John 15:5).  We can almost re-imagine the camp of Israel as a vineyard where the branches weave in and out of each other to form a whole field of living tabernacles whose vines all twine out from the Lord’s Tabernacle in the center.  This is a picture of our living union with Christ.  Only within this vineyard—where life flows from the True Vine to and through and among the branches—can we bear fruit.  “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:4).

Sunday, July 01, 2012

The Life Appeared

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.  The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it" (1 John 1:1, 2).

          John and the other apostles didn't preach the Word.  They preached the Word that became flesh and dwelled among us (John 1:14).  If the Word isn't becoming flesh in us, we have no gospel to preach but only a biblical fiction.  And those who respond to such a message will know it is a fiction when they come to church but do not hear Him, see Him, look at Him, or touch Him in us.

Excerpt from my booklet, "The Consummation of All Things in Christ: Ephesians Chapters 1-4"