First of all much appreciation to all who are following these posts and especially to those who comment. I try to respond to all the comments and I try to be nice but Im getting to be a bit of a curmudgeon in my old age and have litttle patience for some things. Like most evangelical believers I was properly indoctrinated in the correct theology as a young Christian, but over the years I have revisited the theology I was taught and have come to a different conclusion regarding a few things. I have a problem with indoctination. J I Packer, noted reform theologian and professor once said that indoctrination is the process of giving people the answers before they have asked the questions. This process of indoctrination teaches believer not be questioners, thinkers, or challengers. I believe the business of questioning to be the real business of life, and everything else to be just logistics and I believe that this questioning and growing will continue into the next life. I didn’t start this series with the objective of being controversial or to attack anyone’s beliefs. My goal is to share some of the things which have helped me in my spiritual journey and to challenge the readers to grapple with deeper questions than they normally do. And I will be giving some answers to questions they have not asked. Sorry bout that. However when readers challenge my beliefs they should be ready with solid arguments to defend their position for I will lovingly and joyfully take them to the mat and grind their arguments to dust. It’s what I do.
So. if your spiritually prepared, come with me into the Tabernacle. But first, lets pray.
Heavenly father, thank you for this wonderful holy space that you have created, both in time, and in eternity. May we enter with a good heart, and clean hands, without guile or hatred toward any. Give us eyes to see your holy things anew, and may we in the process become like you. Amen.
The doorway we enter through is screened by a large embroidered tapestry.. It has a rich meaning, and in fact every single detail of the Tabernacle is redolent with theological revelation and the study of it is very beneficial. However my aim is to draw your attention only to the major elements of the Tabernacle.
When we enter we are immediately confronted with the bronze altar of sacrifice. We have brought a sacrifice with us, perhaps a lamb or a pidgeon, which the priests will kill and drain the blood and reserve the fat for the altar fire. We will have a feast on the remaining meat. There is always an offering on the altar. Twice a day, morning and evening a whole butchered lamb is placed on the altar, and it burns to ashes, a holocaust, or whole burnt offering unto the Lord.
The purpose of the burnt offering, burning on the altar, night and day is to protect the Israelites from God. It is the propitiation for their sins, Ie it pays for their sins, and protects them from the wrath of God. We don’t speak often of the wrath of God but it is a critically important aspect of His nature. God is a righteous, holy God. He does not tolerate sin, rebellion, or disobedience. This smoking, reeking. altar is the first thing we encounter in the Tabernacle and it is the first thing we need to reckon with if we wish to have a saving relationship with God. It is not a nice place and the issues it deals with are not nice either, This issue of God’s wrath is not just an Old Testament thing. The apostle Paul in Romans 1:18 confirms that
” the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”
Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 4:24 . for the lord your God is a consuming fire” This quote from Deuteronomy was picked up by the author of Hebrews, 12: 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken,let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.
God means business. He is not to be trifled with. He does not throw His pearls before swine, and He is very very dangerous. He is a consuming fire.
So standing here by the Bronze altar of sacrifice we need to question why is this so important that a lamb be burning on the altar day and night. What does this say about God and what does this say about us?
This little series is about the complexity of God and this complexity is almost always about God balancing within Himself two, opposing, virtues. Here at the altar we see God balancing the virtues of Justice and Mercy. God’s justice demands that sin be punished’ ( the wages of sin is death. ) God’s Mercy provides a substitute for the sinner. The death of the Lamb, the death of Jesus, is the substitute. Roman’s 11:22 says, ” behold the goodness and severity of God “. Goodness and severity are the attributes of God revealed at the altar of sacrifice.
In Hebrews 4:13 we read, ” And there is not a creature unapparent before him; but all things [are] naked and laid bare to his eyes, with whom we have to do.” In no place is this more true than at the altar of sacrifice, which in the New Testament is the cross of Jesus Christ. There at the cross, who we really are is displayed for all to see. The good news is that although it is very negative it is also extremely positive.. The negative is that our sin is so terrible, so thorough, so appalling to God, that He had to sacrifice His own son to atone for it. The depth of our sin is gauged only by the price required to pay for it. There at the cross every mouth is closed. What can we say in our defence, but yes Lord, I am a sinner. The positive is that despite the corruption of sin, we still are valuable enough in his sight to be worth dying for. Even though we may not be able to recognize that value he can and He does. Though overlaid with sin, and rebellion the soul cannot lose its worth. Jesus did not die for us DESPITE our unworthiness. He died for us, because he saw in us the image of God, and what we would become in Him. Worm theologians like to use the words unworthy and even worthless to describe sinners and even Christians. Worm theology is a sarcastic term to describe theology which has a very low view of man. It believes that we lift God higher by pushing man lower. I call it wormy theology. I would really enjoy someone taking me to task on this.
Let me illustrate the worth of the sinner… Lets suppose there is a wealthy and avid car collector in California. One day he hears that up in Saskatchewan there is an old Hudson car in the back of barn. Now that farmer that owns this old car knows that it has value and so he has been saving it. But his son keeps telling him to get rid of the worthless old piece of Junk. What value does it have he says. Well the collector arrives and the farmer shows him the car. The collector says, whats the price, The farmer not hesitating says two thousand dollars not knowing that the collector would have paid far more., The son was shocked for the car was worth nothing TO HIM. , while the collector was joyful, for he saw what the car would become. The collector saw the intrinsic worth of the car, the son saw the apparent worthlessness of the car. While sinners may be worthless to others or even to themselves they are of great value to the Lord.. In fact they are worth the death of the lamb of God without spot or blemish and we may all take great comfort in this.
To reject the offer of salvation, which Jesus extends to us all from the cross,is a tremendous tragedy. So much is offered to us in salvation. Above all things salvation, delivers us from the wrath of God which is ultimately expressed in the eternal punishment of hell. But God does not take any pleasure in this odious task for those whom he consigns to hell are of great worth to Him and their eternal separation from Him is a great loss to Him. 1Tim 2:3,4 This is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
At the cross we see the incredible righteousness of Jesus, obeying the Father even unto the death on a cross. The cross forces us to marvel at the goodness, meekness, gentleness and graciousness of Jesus. But Jesus confidently expects us to join him on the cross. He commands his disciples to take up their cross and follow Him Luke 9:23. and we respond to this command in wonder and ask who can do this? The answer is , you can and you will, and all the world will marvel at your righteousness, your goodness, meekness gentleness and graciousness. Here at the cross we not only see ourselves as we are before salvation, without God and without hope in the world, but we also see a promise of what we will become in Christ.
The Lord bless your meditations on the altar of sacrifice and the cross of Jesus.