This article was written from a YouTube video sent to me today by Greg, a Saturday outreach worker for the gospel. The link to the video is below but I thought I’d include some of my own notes as it was very inspiring.
In the Holy Scriptures (see the Book of Daniel), Daniel drew a mental line in the sand when in the pagan, Babylonian culture, essentially saying: don’t mess with my faith because it’s not for sale.
Interestingly, God did not intervene until Daniel made a decision to honor Him (see verse 9 of Daniel 1). We often want things the other way around, for God to act and then we will decide. Everyone wants favor but few will step out in faith before God acts. If He doesn’t see a line, He doesn’t know if He can trust you with favor.
Daniel said he would appreciate it if the Babylonians did not ask him to give up his faith. He wasn’t being mean about it, just respectful and honest. He would not compromise his commitment to the Lord to not eat unclean meat offered to idols (as per God’s commandments in Deuteronomy and Leviticus).
Once Daniel stepped out in faith, God made him have an idea about how to test things (eating the King’s meat or not) with the prince of the eunuchs. God decides who gets promoted and how, even in a secular, godless culture.
Draw a line in the sand and God will help you to win.
Daniel made a decision based on scripture because he was tethered to the truth. God didn’t keep Daniel’s three friends from the fire, He joined them in the fire.
Daniel left his windows open when praying so he wasn’t afraid of being observed doing the forbidden (praying). He was not going to be a secret agent Christian! Nor was he going to be an apologetic Christian.
It should be clear that you represent Jesus Christ in the marketplace. And I’m not talking about going to church or believing in God but about a public commitment to Jesus Christ.
There is no favor if you do not draw a line in the sand.
Finally, Greg gave a scriptural warning from Jeremiah 23, which ties in with the spiritual adultery that was running rampant in Babylon when Daniel and his three friends were captured:
32 Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord.
Verse 59:7Yusuf Ali: What Allah has bestowed on His Messenger (and taken away) from the people of the townships,- belongs to Allah,- to His Messenger and to kindred and orphans, the needy and the wayfarer; In order that it may not (merely) make a circuit between the wealthy among you. So take what the Messenger assigns to you, and deny yourselves that which he withholds from you. And fear Allah; for Allah is strict in Punishment.
Verse 33:21(Yusuf Ali): Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah.
Verse 4:80 (Yusuf Ali): He who obeys the Messenger, obeys Allah: But if any turn away, We have not sent thee to watch over their (evil deeds).
Muhammad had two faces:
Face 1 – the peaceful preacher
Muhammad was called as a prophet in 610 AD when he was 40 years old and began his preaching to Meccan idolators. This lead to his persecution and some of his followers were killed by Meccans. Around 45 verses in the Qu’ran relate to this phase of Muhammad’s preaching, including:
Verse 7:199 (Yusuf Aliversion): Hold to forgiveness; command what is right; But turn away from the ignorant.
Verse 45:14 (Yusuf Ali): Tell those who believe, to forgive those who do not look forward to the Days of Allah: It is for Him to recompense (for good or ill) each People according to what they have earned.
Verse 3:134 (Yusuf Ali): Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men;- for Allah loves those who do good;-
Verse 5:8 (Yusuf Ali): O ye who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.
Verse 3:22 (Yusuf Ali): They are those whose works will bear no fruit in this world and in the Hereafter nor will they have anyone to help.
In 622 AD Muhammad moved to Medina. Around 200 followers went with him and during this time he changed. He undertook a reign of terror which brought him wealth and power, assassinating his critics and beheading prisoners of war. In total he made 77 military attacks and moved away from monogamous relations with his wife. He took ten more women as wives including a six year old girl, consummating his marriage with the latter when she was nine. Thousands of people were killed by Muhammad’s troops and his violence was reflected in his teachings:
2. Face 2 – violence
Verse 9:5 (Yusuf Ali): But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, an seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.
412 verses are found in the Qu’ran which describe, endorse or command fighting or killing. At this state in his life Muhammad ruled over the Arabian Peninsula with around 100 thousand followers.
By the time 1500 AD came around, Islam was the biggest world power the world had ever seen. Militarily, economically and culturally, Islam dominated. However some issues crept in around this time. Lack of education, corruption, in fighting and colonialism led Muslims to become poor and oppressed.
Muslims differ in their world views:
Pure Islam (traditional, orthodox)
Folk Islam (shamanism and animism)
Fundamentalist Islam (with elements of Marxism)
Liberal Islam (secular modernism and feminism)
Sufi Islam (with elements of Monism and Buddhism)
How would Jesus respond to Islam today?
During his lifetime Jesus faced physically violent enemies and He both exposed and broadcast their threats:
John 7:19, King James version of the Bible:
19 Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?
37 I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.
We need to take an honest look at Islamic terrorism:
There have been around 30,000 fatal jihad attacks since September 11th 2001.
ASIO has a list of 26 terrorist organisations: 25 are Islamic.
Within Australia there are 40+ convicted terrorists. All are Muslim.
2. Jesus also faced ideological enemies and He stood up to them.
23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. 24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
46 And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.
We are to speak out against critics and to speak up for what we believe in in debates and other platforms.
3. How did Jesus respond to to those who wanted to hear?
He taught in the synagogues on the Sabbath and told His disciples that the fields were ripe for harvest:
John 4:35: Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
But there is hope regarding efforts today to evangelise Muslims. More have come to Christ in the last 20 years than in the 1400 years prior to that. We are living in a time when the fields are indeed white already to harvest.
This article, written by my friend Bill Taylor on Linked In, explains what drove Jesus’ nobodies to turn the world upside-down. His resurrection changed them, but didn’t drive them, they went fishing instead. What drove them to put their lives on the line to do it? Their love for Him, their love for each other, and their love for the lost.
The Easter Effect
On March 30, 2018, the Wall Street Journal published “The Easter Effect” which began:
In the year 312, just before his victory at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge won him the undisputed leadership of the Roman Empire, Constantine the Great had a heavenly vision of Christian symbols. That augury led him, a year later, to end all legal sanctions on the public profession of Christianity.
We don’t know whether he sincerely accepted Christ as his personal Savior or not. He may have had another motivation:
He was a politician who had shrewdly decided to join the winning side. By the early 4th century, Christians likely counted for between a quarter and a half of the population of the Roman Empire, and their exponential growth seemed likely to continue.
How did this happen? How did a ragtag band of nobodies from the far edges of the Mediterranean world become such a dominant force in just two and a half centuries?
Starting with a tiny group of fired-up nobodies, Jesus’ message turned the world upside-down. Christianity respected and valued women far more than other cultures. Christians’ willingness to care for all the sick and not just their relatives gained them admiration, but did Christianity succeed on its merits? The Journal argues that the revolutionary success of Christianity can’t be explained without including “the Resurrection.”
… that first generation answered the question of why they were Christians with a straightforward answer: because Jesus was raised from the dead.
It’s true that there would be no Christianity without the resurrection, but that wasn’t the driving force.
Read John 20:1-10 I really appreciate the Bible telling me about the weaknesses of God’s chosen people in the past – that helps me understand my own failings.
The disciples had walked with Jesus for 3 years. They had seen Him raise Lazarus from the dead. He had announced that He would rise from the dead plainly enough that the chief priests understood, but the disciples didn’t understand what He was saying until they saw that He was risen indeed.
That should encourage us. We all have moments of doubt, discouragement, and misunderstanding as we try to tell others about Christ, but like the first disciples, we can know that He is risen, as He said.
Read John 20:11-31 That, too, is encouraging. None of us has seen Jesus, but we are blessed by Him! Think about how this chapter ends:
And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. John 20:30-31
John wrote so that we would believe. The disciples saw the signs and wonders John wrote about, they knew He had risen, they had received the Holy Spirit, He had told them to feed His sheep, but that didn’t get them going. Those last two verses sound like a perfectly satisfactory end to the gospel, but that’s not how it ends. Seeing with their own eyes that He was God and had power over death should have given them courage and the initiative to defy the priests and the forces of Rome, but it didn’t.
Read John 21:1-19 Jesus’ resurrection didn’t get the disciples going! After twice seeing the risen Christ, having been told “as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you,” and being given the Holy Spirit (John 20:21-22), Peter and some others went back to fishing. Jesus came after them once again. After feeding them, He asked Peter if Peter loved Him. Jesus had to ask three times, but Peter finally realized that he, Peter, followed Jesus out of love, not because Jesus commanded him. Once they realized that they truly loved Jesus, the Savior of the world, they followed Him joyfully. These few love-driven nobodies turned the world upside-down!
The Wall Street Journal said people became Christians because Jesus was raised from the dead. The Bible shows that His resurrection wasn’t enough. It was the foundation, but the dunomis, the Greek word for “power” from which we get “dynamite,” comes from our love for Jesus. People followed Christ because they knew that the risen Christ loved them so they loved Him in return. We just have to pass the word. But there’s more:
John 21:20-25 After Peter acknowledged that he loved Jesus strongly enough to serve Jesus until martyrdom, Peter asked what the other disciple would do; Jesus asked, “What is that to thee?” Jesus taught that I, who serve Jesus, shouldn’t worry about what Jesus wants others to do; I must concern myself with what the Holy Spirit tells me Jesus wants me to do. Baptists call this “individual soul liberty.” I answer to Jesus for telling others about Him and for showing them my love for Him; they answer to Jesus for how they respond to the gospel.
Although founded on Jesus’ resurrection, Christianity is driven by our love-based relationships with the man, Christ Jesus. Paul put it, “For the love of Christ constraineth us (II Cor. 5:14).” Jesus had told the disciples to get going and He had given them the Holy Spirit, but they went fishing instead. They couldn’t hear the Holy Spirit until they knew their love for Christ! God’s revealed Himself to Elijah in I Kings 19:11-12. God sent a wind which rent the rock, but God was not in the wind. He sent an earthquake, and fire, but God was not in these spectacular demonstrations of His power. “And after the fire a still small voice.” Ps 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” We can’t hear God if we love the clamor of the world more than we love Him.
Paul started building the church when Christ told him to. He kept doing it, not just because he wanted to obey Christ, but because he loved Christ and the brethren even though they gave him a hard time:
Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not your’s but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved. II Corinthians 12:14-15
Christian outreach is driven, not only by Jesus’ commands, but by our love for Him and by our love for lost people. The good news is based on His death and resurrection, but we show its power by showing lost people the power of our love for Him working in us so that we love them in His name and share in His sufferings for the sake of the gospel. Our love for Him makes us want to share in His cross:
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Philippians 3:10-11
And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. Philippians 1:9-10
Our love for Christ improves our judgment and keeps us focused on what’s excellent! When we’re witnessing, nobody cares how much we know until they first know how much we care about them!
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13:35
Our love starts in the home, as husband and wife show fervent love for each other and their children. It spreads into the church. When all men see our love for each other, they’ll want some of it for themselves. The church is founded on the resurrection, but it’s our love for Christ that turns our world upside-down!
From her youth up, my wife desired to marry, bear children, and guide a house (I Ti. 5:14). This is an immense amount of work. “Man may work from sun to sun; woman’s work is never done.” Why does she pour her life into our home? Is it because she promised nearly 50 years ago? That helps, but her love for her family and for Christ is what drives her. II Thes. 3:13 commands, “But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.”
What gives her the energy? What keeps her keeping on keeping on? As Christ’s love gives us the dunomis to go forward for Him, my love, appreciation, encouragement, and support give her the dunomis to recharge her batteries and keep guiding our house. As the Holy Spirit reminds us of Jesus’ love when we’re discouraged, I must always remind her of my love for her. My love also drives me to work to earn the money to take care of her. As with Paul and the church, I gladly spend and am spent for her, our children, and our church.
Duty is involved, of course. Jesus spoke of His servants being obliged to do their duty to Him:
So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do. Luke 17:10
The military understands this. You can get a “Good Conduct” ribbon for obeying orders, but medals are awarded for heroism “above and beyond the call of duty.” Your labor in serving the Lord and your spouse must be Above and Beyond the Call of Duty for you to prosper. A-Above B-Beyond C-Call D-Duty. ABCD, Above and Beyond the Call of Duty. That’s how to be a hero in the military and in your home. Military heroes get dead. Day to day heroes are worthy ambassadors for the Lord Christ and help keep relationships healthy.
Duty determines what a wife must do, but love is the fuel that keeps her going. Isaiah 61:3 speaks of the “oil of joy;” love is the oil that keeps the flame of duty bright. A wife needs to know that she’s loved and appreciated. I Co. 11:9 teaches that women are made for men. God designed a wife’s emotions so that she cares very much about his view of her. I Co. 7:34 teaches that a woman can be so concerned about pleasing her husband that she loses sight of pleasing God. I must take care to ensure that she has time to read the Bible, have family devotions, practice the piano, do voice exercises, and study her Sunday School lessons so she can serve the church but I must also strive to be sure she feels appreciated.
As she looks to Jesus, the love of Christ constrains her to serve her home and family, but her love for me helps her find the energy to keep on keeping on. The dunomis in marriage comes from the man’s love for his wife.
In the movie “Bruce Almighty,” Bruce complained that God wasn’t managing things properly. God gave Bruce the power to hear prayers and decide which ones to answer, but he was not permitted to interfere with anyone’s free will. Bruce had been pretty critical of his girlfriend who loved him deeply. He heard her praying fervently that God would take away her love for him because caring so much how he felt about her was too painful. The book “Unprotected” by Miriam Grossman explains biological reasons why a woman can be hurt so badly when a man to whom she’s given herself turns out to have no feeling for her at all. Realizing that she was no more than a sex toy who was played with and discarded can be very destructive to a woman.
Proverbs 17:22 teaches, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” I have watched this play out. My mother played hymns for church and taught three sons how to play the piano. Her people skills were strong enough that her missionary letters got our family to 300% support. My dad never let her know he appreciated her gifts even though her gifts were very useful to his ministry. He didn’t spend the time he should have invested in making sure she felt loved.
My mother never understood why my wife, whose gifts were so similar to hers, was loved and appreciated while her gifts were not valued. Even though she was convinced that her wedding vows had been said to God as well as to dad (Mal. 2:14), she was coming to the conclusion that she would have to leave my dad. Like the woman in “Bruce Almighty,” the pain of not being loved was more than she could bear.
Instead of leaving when she was diagnosed with cancer, my dad took early retirement and nursed her for the rest of her life. The pain of feeling unloved for all those decades had gone so deep that it took years of cleaning up her messes when chemotherapy made her throw up before she felt loved. By the time she died, she was convinced that he cared deeply about her. Her mother had lived to 95. Given the choice of living 30 more years feeling unloved or dying in confidence she was valued, she’d have chosen early death. For my mother, the certainly of being loved and appreciated was more precious than life itself.
I was blessed because my wife told me of her incredible need for conversation with me before we married. She told me she was looking forward to being married, not for my reason, but “because we can talk more in one day of marriage then in a week of dating.” She made meeting her desired level of conversation and considering her views when making decisions part of our marriage covenant. It turned out that she also expected me to open my heart to her and supply at least 1/3 of the words as we went back and forth. How else could we become one as Jesus expected (Matthew 19:6)? How can we know Him without asking for wisdom and mediating on the answers? Opening my heart to her was frightening and it took about 2 years of intense involvement to become accustomed to her way of talking, but that gave her the confidence that she was loved, something my mother didn’t have until just before she died. Knowing she’s loved and appreciated makes my wife happy.
A man’s emotions are just as powerful as a woman’s. A man who loves a woman can be as hurt as a woman who loves a man, so some men try not to feel love. My close friend who was best man at my wedding saw the joy I receive from having my wife like belonging to me. Whenever he talked of marriage, we told him to find a wife in church. He was skeptical. “Are you saying that only Christians can have happy marriages?”
Some years later, he told us he had gotten married semi-secretly. He’d been living with her and married when he decided to start a family. He didn’t say much, but it was pretty clear that it wasn’t going smoothly.
Proverbs 12:4 says, “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.” I’ve seen that, too. She did many things to shame him, even in front of my teen-aged sons. It was no surprise to hear that he’d had a serious heart attack. As we sat together in the hospital waiting area, his wife was furious, “How dare he die and leave me all alone!” I told her some of the things we’d done together in college. She was incredulous – he never told her much of himself. Instead of sharing himself and his life with his wife and daughter, he’d remained an island.
About a year after he got out of the hospital, he told me his wife was dead. They’d had a fight and she drove off to a meeting. On the way back, she went off the road. She hated seatbelts and always counted on the airbag. The airbag blew her out of her car and killed her.
The Bible is serious when it says that it is not good for a man to be alone. Although dad had not appreciated her, my mother had been the axle on which the wheel of his life turned. Without her, he began to die. In spite of his wife’s bringing enough stress into his life to literally rot his health, my friend was devastated by her death. He finally admitted to me and to his daughter that he had loved her very much and that it would have been better for both of them if he’d somehow let her know that. Would they have had fewer fights?
Having created Adam, Jesus knew that Peter would have a hard time admitting that he loved Jesus. Did Jesus asking Peter about love make Peter love Jesus? Or did Peter already love Jesus, but wasn’t willing to admit it, even to himself? Although his actions finally showed my mother his love for her, my father didn’t admit to himself that he loved and appreciated my mother until after she was gone. My friend did the same.
Both my friend and my dad would have been a great deal happier if they had convinced their wives of their love. That would have made the women happier. The Bible states five times that an unhappy woman is a hardship, but what’s the opposite? There is no joy this side of heaven for a man that compares with having a woman be happy to belong to him. What makes a woman happy? It’s taught in the Song of Solomon – she likes hearing that she’s loved and appreciated often enough that she and her friends are convinced.
Why wouldn’t Peter admit to himself that he loved Jesus? Why didn’t my friend want to admit that he loved his wife? Why do so few modern husbands let their wives know they’re loved? Is it fear?
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. I John 4:18
It was reasonable for Peter to fear letting himself love Jesus enough to follow Him. He’d seen Jesus weep near Lazarus’ tomb. Jesus wept because He knew that some who saw Him resurrect Lazarus would reject Him and go to hell. Peter may have realized how badly rejection would hurt him if he tried to feed Jesus’ sheep. Peter had seen how the powers that be treated Jesus, and Jesus had warned His disciples how they would be hated:
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. Matthew 10:22
Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. Matthew 24:9
Men are generally reluctant to admit their feelings. Beyond that, knowing what would happen if he followed Jesus could have contributed to Peter’s not wanting to acknowledge his love for Jesus. Paul also gave us a hint:
And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved. II Corinthians 12:15
Paul knew that other Christians didn’t always return his love. Loving someone makes me vulnerable to how that person treats me. The more I love my wife, the more she could hurt me if she wanted to. Some husbands are too afraid of being hurt to let their wives know how vulnerable love makes them. Consider Proverbs 31. Who wrote it?
The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him. Proverbs 31:1
Most of Proverbs is father to son. Proverbs 2 and 5 show that a man can teach his son about bad women, but chapter 31 shows that it’s a mother who teaches her son about good women. What does she say?
Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. Proverbs 31:10-13
Men, the Bible teaches that you can trust your heart to your wife. A virtuous wife does her husband good and not evil. She could put a knife to his heart, but she’ll take care to speak kindly so she won’t shred him:
She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. Proverbs 31:26
A non-virtuous woman can damage a man, of course. My wife used to take a friend to visit her husband who was dying in a nursing home. He respected my wife because he could see her love for him and for his wife and her hope that their relationship would work better. The last time she saw him, he was finally paying attention to her gospel message. At a critical point, his wife interrupted, changed the subject, and ended the discussion.
“I could see he was listening to you,” his wife said after he died. “I didn’t want him to go to heaven; I wanted him to go to hell because of how he treated me.” Her emotions remained deeply engaged in spite of all the hurt he’d inflicted on her after taking her before marriage and beating her when he was drunk. She missed him deeply in spite of the hurt and suffered major trauma every year on the anniversary of his death.
My friend’s wife, who seemed to be trying to hurt him, wasn’t a virtuous woman. He hadn’t sought a virtuous woman, he failed to protect her virtue before they were married, and he refused to seek forgiveness from either her, her parents, or from God. God commands men to avoid fornication, that is, any sex outside marriage:
For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit. I Thessalonians 4:3-8
The first step in sanctifying a woman is marrying her before taking her. How often do we hear of a man claiming to love a woman in order to persuade her to fulfil his lusts? Isn’t that what Samson did to Delilah? Absent the sanctification of marriage, its lust which God calls “fraud” and which God will avenge.
We know from news reports about dates gone wrong that being defrauded by being taken outside marriage can harm a woman badly and make her bitter. My friend’s wife’s bitterness made him miserable. God gave him the desire of his heart when he took her before marriage, but brought leanness into his soul (Ps. 106:15). Fraud followed by bitterness isn’t a good foundation for marriage. My friend didn’t want to take responsibility for defrauding her and he refused to try to heal the damage he’d done, so the situation couldn’t improve.
Men, the way you conduct your marriage to a virtuous woman, like Christianity, should be driven by your love for Christ and for her. The Bible teaches that God loves “the world,” but God’s love doesn’t do a sinner any good unless we convince the sinner. Your love doesn’t do your wife any good unless you convince her, over and over, and show that you mean it by nourishing her and heeding her needs. This isn’t just her material needs; it’s letting her be one with you. Philippians 2:3 teaches that we should esteem others better than ourselves. Marriage prospers when husband and wife engage the dunomis of love.
The resurrection didn’t drive the disciples to turn the world upside-down, evangelism didn’t get going until the disciples realized they loved Jesus, after which, as Paul put it, “the love of Christ constraineth us.” Jesus demonstrated love in action. When His disciples allowed themselves to feel the dunomis of His love, they couldn’t be contained. If we animate ourselves with His love, we can’t be contained either:
Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned. Song 8:7
Your marriage won’t really get going until you both recognize your love for each other and let that love constrain you to serve each other as Paul served Christ and the church, but it starts with the husband loving his wife (Eph. 5:25, Col. 3:19). If you draw on the dunomis Jesus’ love offers, your love cannot be contained. When lost people see you and your wife passing God’s love back and forth between you, they’ll want it for themselves. That’s how we turn the world upside-down!
Thank you to my friend in Christ whose name I do not know but who wishes for all the glory to go to our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is advisable that you prayerfully and meditatively read the text first.
YOU ARE ABLE TEXT: EXODUS 4:1-7. 🔑KEY VERSE “And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod” (EXODUS 4:2).
When God’s call is upon anybody, He will provide all that is needed to make the work possible, even though there may be temporary adversity. He often calls us to do that which is beyond our natural abilities. Paul the apostle affirms, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God”.
Moses doubted the possibility of the children of Israel believing that he was sent by God. He revealed his insecurity about his leadership. He did not take to Egypt as evidence of his personal encounter with God on Mount Sinai. What is interesting about the evidence that he was to take back to Egypt were the signs that God gave him to prove that he was a messenger of God.
The Lord begins to work with a man with the little talent he has. Do not despise your talent or competence no matter how undeveloped it is. You will always start from the known to the unknown. Put to proper use the little talent available now for a bountiful harvest in the future. He said the children of Israel would not believe him if he told them his encounter with God. The almighty God told him to believe in himself.
Many people have remained in their mediocre level because they fail to accept the possibility of rising to the top from their little corner and with their Iittle knowledge. With our little, God can achieve great things through us. He proved to Moses that he could accomplish a lot with His backing. So, start to believe in yourself and develop the “I Can!” mentality.
✍THOUGHT FOR THE DAY Little is much when God is in it.
BIBLE IN ONE YEAR 1 SAMUEL 25-26.
Necessity of signs in a skeptical world
The important question a. Moses, having gone to the best school in Egypt, was no doubt a first class intellectual, Acts 7:21,22. b. He knew that in order to inspire faith in God among skeptics, the need for supernatural signs is imperative. c. His foresight, intelligent reasoning and a sound audience analysis made him to demand for signs that will make his ministry among skeptics easy, v1. d. Every wise person sent by God as a soul winner, counsellor or minister etc must think through on what will be needed for the ministration to be effective and for the audience to submit to God. Just as God answered Moses, He will do the same to His willing vessels, v1. Q Have you prayerfully thought through of what you need from God to be effective in your service or you are in hurry to move? The Apostles were asked to wait for 10 days in order to get the needed gift of the Holy Spirit, Acts 1:4. e. The time of waiting on God is never a wasted time. One of the weapons of christian warfare is “preparation for the gospel of peace”, Ephesians 6:15.
The imparted qualifier a. What God gifted him to qualify him was just a divine impartation on what he already possessed, i.e. the rod in his hand, v2. b. Every child of God has the innate gift or talent they need to function in God-given assignment in a measure. c. What is needed, in most cases, is the anointing and impartation of the Holy Spirit to activate and supernaturally enable that gift. d. Moses had the rod, he only needed supernatural unction on it. A talented natural teacher will be given the gift of a teacher to function more effectively. A natural argumentator may just have the life consecrated and purified with impartation of wisdom to be an effective contender for the faith. The Spirit may just lay hands on you and use your education or training for His glory. Q Have you discovered yours? If NO ask God. If yes, you just need to develop it after the Holy Spirit has ignited fire on it. e. Moses ran away from the rod turned serpent but exercised faith by touching the tail of the serpent in simple obedience to God without allowing fear, vv3,4. There is need for obedience and faith in God in order to upgrade your natural endowments to supernatural manifestations.
Prayer points Lord, reveal to me the inborn gifts you have embedded in me.🙏 Lord, I hereby humbly consecrate those gifts for your glory alone.🙏 Lord, let fire of God activate and empower your gifts in me and turn them into supernatural manifestations.🙏 Lord, Let the gifts of God in every member of the Church be activated and empowered for effectiveness in this skeptical world .🙏
This article comes courtesy of Newton Mortha, a fellow gospel worker online.
1 Timothy 4:5-10 5:
For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. 6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. 7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. 8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. 9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.
Of George Herbert, his favorite poet, the Puritan Richard Baxter said: “heart work and heaven work make up his books.” By “heart-work” Baxter meant cultivating the spirit of grateful, humble, adoring love to one’s divine Lover and Savior, as Herbert does in this poem (nowadays a familiar hymn):
King of glory, King of peace, I will love thee; And that love may never cease I will move [ask] thee. Thou hast granted my request, Thou hast heard me; Thou didst note my working breast, Thou hast spared me. Wherefore with my utmost art I will sing thee, And the cream of all my heart I will bring thee. . . .
Holiness is a paramount need in evangelical life today—by humanity. The deepest word that can be spoken about sanctification is that it is a progress towards true humanity. Salvation is, essentially considered, the restoration of humanity to men. This is why the slightly inhuman, not to say unnatural, streak in some forms and expressions of sanctification is so far removed from the true work of grace in the soul. The greatest saints of God have been characterised, not by haloes and an atmosphere of distant unapproachability, but by their humanity. They have been intensely human and lovable people with a twinkle in their eyes. The assertion I make, and must now myself face, is that Brain, Warren and Philip are right. Genuine holiness is genuine Christlikeness, and genuine Christ- likeness is genuine humanness—the only genuine humanness there is. Love in the service of God and others, humility and meekness under the divine hand, integrity of behavior expressing integration of character, wisdom with faithfulness, boldness with prayerfulness, sorrow at people’s sins, joy at the Father’s goodness, and single-mindedness in seeking to please the Father morning, noon, and night, were all qualities seen in Christ, the perfect man. Christians are meant to become human as Jesus was human. We are called to imitate these character qualities, with the help of the Holy Spirit, so that the child- ish instability, inconsiderate self-seeking, pious playacting, and undiscerning pig- headedness that so frequently mar our professedly Christian lives are left behind. “Holiness, rightly understood, is a beautiful thing, and its beauty is the beauty and tenderness of divine love”—which is precisely the beauty of truly mature humanity. I need to remember all this, and take it to heart, and set my sights accordingly.
A Sermon (No. 95) Delivered on Sabbath Morning, August 10, 1856, by the REV. C. H. Spurgeon At New Park Street Chapel, Southwark.
“This shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year.”—Leviticus 16:34.
he Jews had many striking ceremonies which marvellously set forth the death of Jesus Christ as the great expiation of our guilt and the salvation of our souls. One of the chief of these was the day of atonement, which I believe was pre-eminently intended to typify that great day of vengeance of our God, which was also the great day of acceptance of our souls, when Jesus Christ “died, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God.” That day of atonement happened only once a year, to teach us that only once should Jesus Christ die; and that though he would come a second time, yet it would be without a sin offering unto salvation. The lambs were perpetually slaughtered; morning and evening they offered sacrifice to God, to remind the people that they always needed a sacrifice; but the day of atonement being the type of the one great propitiation, it was but once a year that the high priest entered within the vail with blood as the atonement for the sins of the people. And this was on a certain set and appointed time; it was not left to the choice of Moses, or to the convenience of Aaron, or to any other circumstance which might affect the date; it was appointed to be on a peculiar set day, as you find at the 29th verse: “In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month;” and at no other time was the day of atonement to be, to show us that God’s great day of atonement was appointed and predestinated by himself. Christ’s expiation occurred but once, and then not by any chance; God had settled it from before the foundation of the world; and at that hour when God had predestinated, on that very day that God had decreed that Christ should die, was he led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers he was dumb. It was but once a year, because the sacrifice should be once; it was at an appointed time in the year, because in the fulness of time Jesus Christ should come into the world to die for us.
Now, I shall invite your attention to the ceremonies of this solemn day, taking the different parts in detail. First, we shall consider the person who made the atonement; secondly, the sacrifice whereby the atonement was typically made; thirdly, the effects of the atonement; and fourthly, our behaviour on the recollection of the atonement, as well set forth by the conduct prescribed to the Israelites on that day.
I. First, THE PERSON WHO WAS TO MAKE THE ATONEMENT. And at the outset, we remark that Aaron, the high priest, did it. “Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place; with a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering.” Inferior priests slaughtered lambs; other priests at other times did almost all the work of the sanctuary; but on this day nothing was done by any one, as a part of the business of the great day of atonement, except by the high priest. Old rabbinical traditions tell us that everything on that day was done by him, even the lighting of the candles, and the fires, and the incense, and all the offices that were required, and that, for a fortnight beforehand, he was obliged to go into the tabernacle to slaughter the bullocks and assist in the work of the priests and Levites, that he might be prepared to do the work which was unusual to him. All the labour was left to him. So, beloved, Jesus Christ, the High Priest, and he only, works the atonement. There are other priests, for “he hath made us priests and kings unto God.” Every Christian is a priest to offer sacrifice of prayer and praise unto God, but none save the High Priest must offer atonement; he, and he alone, must go within the vail; he must slaughter the goat and sprinkle the blood; for though thanksgiving is shared in by all Christ’s elect body, atonement remains alone to him, the High Priest.
Then it is interesting to notice, that the high priest on this day was a humbled priest. You read in the 4th verse, “He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments.” On other days he wore what the people were accustomed to call the golden garments; he had the mitre with a plate of pure gold around his brow, tied with brilliant blue; the splendid breastplate, studded with gems, adorned with pure gold and set with precious stones; the glorious ephod, the tinkling bells, and all the other ornaments, wherewith he came before the people as the accepted high priest. But on this day he had none of them. The golden mitre was laid aside, the embroidered vest was put away, the breastplate was taken off, and he came out simply with the holy linen coat, the linen breeches, the linen mitre, and girded with a linen girdle. On that day he humbled himself just as the people humbled themselves. Now, that is a notable circumstance. You will see sundry other passages in the references which will bear this out, that the priest’s dress on this day was different. As Mayer tells us, he wore garments, and glorious ones, on other days, but on this day he wore four humble ones. Jesus Christ, then, when he made atonement, was a humbled priest. He did not make atonement arrayed in all the glories of his ancient throne in heaven. Upon his brow there was no diadem, save the crown of thorns; around him was cast no purple robe, save that which he wore for a time in mockery; on his head was no sceptre, save the reed which they thrust in cruel contempt upon him; he had no sandals of pure gold, neither was he dressed as king; he had none of those splendours about him which should make him mighty and distinguished among men; he came out in his simple body, ay, in his naked body, for they stripped off even the common robe from him, and made him hang before God’s sun and God’s universe, naked, to his shame, and to the disgrace of those who chose to do so cruel and dastardly a deed. Oh! my soul, adore thy Jesus, who when he made atonement, humbled himself and wrapped around him a garb of thine inferior clay. Oh! angels, ye can understand what were the glories that he laid aside. Oh! thrones, and principalities, and powers, ye can tell what was the diadem with which he dispensed, and what, the robes he laid aside to wrap himself in earthly garbs. But, men, ye can scarce tell how glorious is your High Priest now, and ye can scarce tell how glorious he was before. But oh! adore him, for on that day it was the simple clean linen of his own body, of his own humanity, in which he made atonement for your sins.
In the next place, the high priest who offered the atonement must be a spotless high priest; and because there were none such to be found, Aaron being a sinner himself as well as the people, you will remark that Aaron had to sanctify himself and make atonement for his own sin before he could go in to make an atonement for the sins of the people. In the 3rd verse you read, “Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place: with a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering.” These were for himself. In the 6th verse it is said, “And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house.” Yea, more, before he went within the vail with the blood of the goat which was the atonement for the people, he had to go within the vail to make atonement there for himself. In the 11th, 12th, and 13th verses, it is said, “And Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and shall make an atonement for himself, and for his house, and shall kill the bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself. And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the Lord, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail. And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not.” “And he shall take of the blood of the bullock (that is, the bullock that he killed for himself), and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward; and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times.” This was before he killed the goat, for it says, “Then shall he kill the goat.” Before he took the blood which was a type of Christ within the vail, he took the blood (which was a type of Christ in another sense), wherewith he purified himself. Aaron must not go within the vail until by the bullock his sins had been typically expiated, nor even then without the burning smoking incense before his face, lest God should look on him, and he should die, being an impure mortal. Moreover, the Jews tell us that Aaron had to wash himself, I think, five times in the day; and it is said in this chapter that he had to wash himself many times. We read in the 4th verse, “These are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on.” And at the 24th verse, “He shall wash his flesh with water in the holy place, and put on his garments.” So you see it was strictly provided for that Aaron on that day should be a spotless priest. He could not be so as to nature, but, ceremonially, care was taken that he should be clean. He was washed over and over again in the sacred bath. And besides that, there was the blood of the bullock and the smoke of the incense, that he might be acceptable before God. Ah! beloved, and we have a spotless High Priest; we have one who needed no washing, for he had no filth to wash away; we have one who needed no atonement for himself, for he, for ever, might have sat down at the right hand of God, and ne’er have come on earth at all. He was pure and spotless; he needed no incense to wave before the mercy seat to hide the angry face of justice; he needed nothing to hide and shelter him; he was all pure and clean. Oh! bow down and adore him, for if he had not been a holy High Priest, he could never have taken thy sins upon himself, and never have made intercession for thee. Oh! reverence him, that, spotless as he was, he should come into this world and say, “For this cause I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified through the truth.” Adore and love him, the spotless High Priest, who, on the day of atonement took away thy guilt.
Again, the atonement was made by a solitary high priest—alone and unassisted. You read in the 17th verse, “And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel.” No other man was to be present, so that the people might be quite certain that everything was done by the high priest alone. It is remarkable, as Matthew Henry observes, that no disciple died with Christ. When he was put to death, his disciples forsook him and fled; they crucified none of his followers with him, lest any should suppose that the disciple shared the honor of atonement. Thieves were crucified with him because none would suspect that they could assist him; but if a disciple had died, it might have been imagined that he had shared the atonement. God kept that holy circle of Calvary select to Christ, and none of his disciples must go to die there with him. O glorious High Priest, thou hast done it all alone. O, glorious antitype of Aaron, no son of thine stood with thee; no Eliezer, no Phineas, burned incense; there was no priest, no Levite save himself. “I have trodden the wine-press alone, and of the people there was none with me.” Then give all the glory unto his holy name, for alone and unassisted he made atonement for your guilt. The bath of his blood is your only washing; the stream of water from his side is your perfect purification. None but Jesus, none but Jesus, has wrought out the work of our salvation.
Again, it was a laborious high priest who did the work on that day. It is astonishing how, after comparative rest, he should be so accustomed to his work as to be able to perform all that he had to do on that day. I have endeavoured to count up how many creatures he had to kill, and I find that there were fifteen beasts which he slaughtered at different times, besides the other offices, which were all left to him. In the first place, there were the two lambs, one offered in the morning, and the other in the evening; they were never omitted, being a perpetual ordinance. On this day the high priest killed those two lambs. Further, if you will turn to Numbers xxix. 7-11, “And ye shall have on the tenth day of this seventh month an holy convocation; and ye shall afflict your souls: ye shall not do any work therein: But ye shall offer a burnt unto the Lord for a sweet savour; one young bullock, one ram, and seven lambs of the first year; they shall be unto you without blemish: And their meat offering shall be of flour mingled with oil, three tenth deals to a bullock, and two tenth deals to one ram. A several tenth deal for one lamb, throughout the seven lambs: One kid of the goats for a sin offering: besides the sin offering of atonement, and the continual burnt offering, and the meat offering of it, and their drink offerings.” Here, then, was one bullock, a ram, seven lambs, and a kid of the goats; making ten. The two lambs made twelve. And in the chapter we have been studying, it is said in the 3rd verse: “Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place: with a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering;” which makes the number fourteen. Then, after that, we find there were two goats, but only one of them was killed, the other being allowed to go away. Thus, then, there were fifteen beasts to be slaughtered, besides the burnt offerings of thanksgiving which were offered by way of showing that the people now desired to dedicate themselves to the Lord from gratitude, that the atonement of sin offering had been accepted. He who was ordained priest in Jeshurun, for that day, toiled like a common Levite, worked as laboriously as priest could do, and far more so than on any ordinary day. Just so with our Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, what a labour the atonement was to him! It was a work that all the hands of the universe could not have accomplished; yet he completed it alone. It was a work more laborious than the treading of the wine-press, and his frame, unless sustained by the divinity within, could scarce have borne such stupendous labour. There was the bloody sweat in Gethsemane; there was the watching all night, just as the high priest did for fear that uncleanness might touch him; there was the hooting and the scorn which he suffered every day before—something like the continual offering of the Lamb; then there came the shame, the spitting, the cruel flagellations in Pilate’s hall; then there was the via dolorosa through Jerusalem’s sad streets; then came the hanging on the cross, with the weight of his people’s sins on his shoulders. Ay, it was a Divine labour that our great High Priest did on that day—a labour mightier than the making of the world: it was the new making of a world, the taking of its sins upon his Almighty shoulders and casting them into the depths of the sea. The atonement was made by a toilsome laborious High Priest, who worked, indeed, that day; and Jesus, thought he had toiled before, yet never worked as he did on that wondrous day of atonement.
II. Thus have I led you to consider the person who made the atonement: let us now consider for a moment or two THE MEANS WHEREBY THIS ATONEMENT WAS MADE. You read at the 5th verse, “And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering.” And at the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th verses, “And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the Lord’s lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.” The first goat I considered to be the great type of Jesus Christ the atonement: such I do not consider the scapegoat to be. The first is a type of the means whereby the atonement was made, and we shall keep to that first.
Notice that this goat, of course, answered all the pre-requisites of every other thing that was sacrificed; it must be a perfect, unblemished goat of the first year. Even so was our Lord a perfect man, in the prime and vigour of his manhood. And further, this goat was an eminent type of Christ from the fact that it was taken of the congregation of the children of Israel, as we are told at the 5th verse. The public treasury furnished the goat. So, beloved, Jesus Christ was, first of all, purchased by the public treasury of the Jewish people before he died. Thirty pieces of silver they had valued him at, a goodly price; and as they had been accustomed to bring the goat, so they brought him to be offered: not, indeed, with the intention that he should be their sacrifice, but unwittingly they fulfilled this when they brought him to Pilate, and cried, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Oh, beloved! Indeed, Jesus Christ came out from the midst of the people, and the people brought him. Strange that it should be so! “He came unto his own, and his own received him not;” his own led him forth to slaughter; his own dragged him before the mercy seat.
Note, again, that though this goat, like the scapegoat, was brought by the people, God’s decision was in it still. Mark, it is said, “Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats: one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat.” I conceive this mention of lots is to teach that although the Jews brought Jesus Christ of their own will to die, yet, Christ had been appointed to die; and even the very man who sold him was appointed to it—so saith the Scripture. Christ’s death was fore-ordained, and there was not only man’s hand in it, but God’s. “The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.” So it is true that man put Christ to death, but it was of the Lord’s disposal that Jesus Christ was slaughtered, “the just for the unjust, to bring us to God.”
Next, behold the goat that destiny has marked out to make the atonement. Come and see it die. The priest stabs it. Mark it in its agonies; behold it struggling for a moment; observe the blood as it gushes forth. Christians, ye have here your Saviour. See his Father’s vengeful sword sheathed in his heart; behold his death agonies; see the clammy sweat upon his brow; mark his tongue cleaving to the roof of his mouth; hear his sighs and groans upon the cross; hark to his shriek, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani,” and you have more now to think of than you could have if you only stood to see the death of a goat for your atonement. Mark the blood as from his wounded hands it flows, and from his feet it finds a channel to the earth; from his open side in one great river see it gush. As the blood of the goat made the atonement typically, so, Christian, thy Saviour dying for thee, made the great atonement for thy sins, and thou mayest go free. But mark, this goat’s blood was not only shed for many for the remission of sins as a type of Christ, but that blood was taken within the vail, and there it was sprinkled. So with Jesus’s blood, “Sprinkled now with blood the throne.” The blood of other beasts (save only of the bullock) was offered before the Lord, and was not brought into the most holy place; but this goat’s blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat, to make an atonement. So, O child of God, thy Saviour’s blood has made atonement within the vail; he has taken it there himself; his own merits and his own agonies are now within the vail of glory, sprinkled now before the throne. O glorious sacrifice, as well as High Priest, we would adore thee, for by thy one offering hot hast made atonement for ever, even as this one slaughtered goat made atonement once in a year for the sins of all the people.
III. We now come to the EFFECTS. One of the first effects of the death of this goat was sanctification of the holy things which had been made unholy. You read at the end of the 15th verse, “He shall sprinkle it upon the mercy seat: and he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness.” The holy place was made unholy by the people. Where God dwelt should be holy, but where man comes there must be some degree of unholiness. This blood of the goat made the unholy place holy. It was a sweet reflection to me as I came here this morning. I thought, “I am going to the house of God, and that house is a holy place;” but when I thought how many sinners had trodden its floors, how many unholy ones had joined in its songs, I thought, “Ah! it has been made defiled; but oh! there is no fear, for the blood of Jesus has made it holy again.” “Ah!” I thought, “there is our poor prayer that we shall offer: it is a holy prayer, for God the Holy Spirit dictates it, but then it is an unholy prayer, for we have uttered it, and that which cometh out of unholy lips like ours, must be tainted.” “But ah!” I thought again, “it is a prayer that has been sprinkled with blood, and therefore it must be a holy prayer.” And as I looked on all the harps of this sanctuary, typical of your praises, and on all the censers of this tabernacle, typical of your prayers, I thought within myself, “There is blood on them all; our holy service this day has been sprinkled with the blood of the great Jesus, and as such it will be accepted through him.” Oh! beloved, it is not sweet to reflect that our holy things are now really holy; that through sin is mixed with them all, and we think them defiled, yet they are not, for the blood has washed out every stain; and the service this day is as holy in God’s sight as the service of the cherubim, and is acceptable as the psalms of the glorified; we have washed our worship in the blood of the Lamb, and it is accepted through him.
But observe, the second great fact was that their sins were taken away. This was set forth by the scapegoat. You read at the 20th, “And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat: And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited, and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.” When that was done, you see, the great and wonderful atonement was finished, and the effects of it were set forth to the people. Now, I do not know how many opinions there are about this scapegoat. One of the most strange opinions to me is that which is held by a very large portion of learned men, and I see it is put in the margin of my Bible. Many learned men thing that this word scapegoat, Azazel, was the name of the devil who was worshipped by the heathen in the form of a goat; and they tell us that the first goat was offered to God as an atonement for sin, and the other went away to be tormented by the devil, and was called Azazel, just as Jesus was tormented by Satan in the wilderness. To this opinion, it is enough to object that it is difficult to conceive when the other goat was offered to God, this should be sent among demons. Indeed, the opinion is too gross for belief. It needs only to be mentioned to be refuted. Now the first goat is the Lord Jesus Christ making atonement by his death for the sins of the people; the second is sent away into the wilderness, and nothing is heard of it any more for ever; and here a difficulty suggests itself—”Did Jesus Christ go where he was never heard of any more for ever?” That is what we have not to consider al all. The first goat was a type of the atonement; the second is the type of the effect of the atonement. The second goat went away, after the first was slaughtered, carrying the sins of the people on its head, and so it sets froth, as a scapegoat, how our sins are carried away into the depth of the wilderness. There was this year exhibited in the Art Union a fine picture of the scapegoat dying in the wilderness: it was represented with a burning sky above it, its feet sticking in the mire, surrounded by hundreds of skeletons, and there dying a doleful and miserable death. Now, that was just a piece of gratuitous nonsense, for there is nothing the Scripture that warrants it in the least degree. The rabbis tell us that this goat was taken by a man into the wilderness and here tumbled down a high rock to die; but, as an excellent commentator says, if the man did push it down the rock he more than God ever told him to do. God told him to take a goat and let it go: as to what became of it neither you nor I know anything; that is purposely left. Our Lord Jesus Christ has taken away our sins upon his head, just as the scapegoat, and he is gone from us—that is all: the goat was not a type in its dying, or in regard to its subsequent fate. God has only told us that it should be taken by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness. The most correct account seems to be that of one Rabbi Jarchi, who says that they generally took the goat twelve miles out of Jerusalem, and at each mile there was a booth provided where the man who took it might refresh himself till he came to the tenth mile, when there was no more rest for him till he had seen the goat go. When he had come to the last mile he stood and looked at the goat till it was gone, and he could see it no more. Then the people’s sins were all gone too. Now, what a fine type that is if you do not enquire any further! But if you will get meddling where God intended you to be in ignorance, you will get nothing by it. This scapegoat was not designed to show us the victim or the sacrifice, but simply what became of the sins. The sins of the people are confessed upon that head; the goat is going; the people lose sight of it; a fit man goes with it; the sins are going from them, and now the man has arrived at his destination; the man sees the goat in the distance skipping here and there overt the mountains, glad of its liberty; it is not quite gone; a little farther, and now it is lost to sight. The man returns, and says he can no longer see it; then the people clap their hands, for their sins are all gone too. Oh! soul; canst thou see thy sins all gone? We may have to take a long journey, and carry our sins with us; but oh! how we watch and watch till they are utterly cast into the depths of the wilderness of forgetfulness, where they shall never be found any more against us for ever. But mark, this goat did not sacrificially make the atonement; it was a type of the sins going away, and so it was a type of the atonement; for you know, since our sins are thereby lost, it is the fruit of the atonement; but the sacrifice is the means of making it. So we have this great and glorious thought before us, that by the death of Christ there was full, free, perfect remission for all those whose sins are laid upon his head. For I would have you notice that on this day all sins were laid on the scapegoat’s head—sins of presumption, sins of ignorance, sins of uncleanness, sins little and sins great, sins few and sins many, sins against the law, sins against morality, sins against ceremonies, sins of all kinds were taken away on that great day of atonement. Sinner, oh, that thou hadst a share in my Master’s atonement! Oh! that thou couldst see him slaughtered on the cross! Then mightest thou see him go away leading captivity captive, and taking thy sins where they might ne’er be found.
I have now an interesting fact to tell you, and I am sure you will think it worth mentioning. Turn to Leviticus xxv. 9, and you will read: “Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall yet make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.” So that one of the effects of the atonement was set forth to us in the fact that when the year of jubilee came, it was not on the first day of the year that it was proclaimed, but “on the tenth day of the seventh month.” Ay, methinks, that was the best part of it. The scapegoat is gone, and the sins are gone, and no sooner are they gone than the silver trumpet sounds:
“The year of jubilee is to come, Return, ye ransomed sinners, home.”
On that day sinners go free; on that day our poor mortgaged lands are liberated, and our poor estates which have been forfeited by our spiritual bankruptcy are all returned to us. So when Jesus dies, slaves win their liberty, and lost ones receive spiritual life again; when he dies, heaven, the long lost inheritance is ours. Blessed day! Atonement and jubilee ought to go together. Have you ever had a jubilee, my friends, in your hearts? If you have not, I can tell you it is because you have not had a day of atonement.
One more thought concerning the effects of this great day of atonement, and you will observe that it runs throughout the whole of the chapter—entrance within the vail. Only on one day in the year might the high priest enter within the vail, and then it must be for the great purposes of the atonement. Now, beloved, the atonement is finished, and you may enter within the vail: “Having boldness, therefore, to enter into the holiest, let us come with boldness into the throne of the heavenly grace.” The vail of the temple is rent by the atonement of Christ, and access to the throne is now ours. O child of God, I know not of any privilege which thou hast, save fellowship with Christ, which is more valuable than access to the throne. Access to the mercy seat is one of the greatest blessings mortals can enjoy. Precious throne of grace! I never should have had any right to come there if it had not been for the day of atonement; I never should have been able to come there if the throne had not been sprinkled with the blood.
IV. Now we come to notice, in the fourth place, what is our PROPER BEHAVIOUR WHEN WE CONSIDER THE DAY OF ATONEMENT. You read at the 29th verse, “And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls.” That is one thing that we ought to do when we remember the atonement. Sure, sinner, there is nothing that move thee to repentance like the thought of that great sacrifice of Christ which is necessary to wash away thy guilt. “Law and terrors do but harden.” but methinks, the thought that Jesus died is enough to make us melt. It is well, when we hear the name of Calvary, always to shed a tear, for there is nothing that ought to make a sinner weep like the mention of the death of Jesus. On that day “ye shall afflict your souls.” And even you, ye Christians, when ye think that your Saviour died, should afflict your souls: ye should say:
“Alas! and did my Saviour bleed? And did my Sov’reign die? Would he devote that sacred head For such a worm as I?”
Drops of grief ought to flow, ay, streams of undissembled sympathy with him; to show our grief for what we did to pierce the Saviour. “Afflict your souls,” O ye children of Israel, for the day of atonement is come. Weep o’er your Jesus; weep for him that died; weep for him who was murdered by your sins, and “afflict your souls.”
Then, better still, we are to “do not work at all,” as ye find the same verse, 29th. When we consider the atonement, we should rest, and “do no work at all.” Rest from your works as God did from his on the great Sabbath of the world; rest from your own righteousness; rest from your toilsome duties: rest in him. “We that believe do enter into rest.” As soon as thou seest the atonement finished, say, “it is done, it is done? Now will I serve my God with zeal, but now I will no longer seek to save myself, it is done, it is done for aye.”
Then there was another thing which always happened. When the priest had made the atonement, it was usual for him, after he had washed himself, to come out again in his glorious garments. When the people saw him they attended him to his house with joy, and they offered burnt offerings of praise on that day: he being thankful that his life was spared, (having been allowed to go into the holy place and to come out of it) and they being thankful that the atonement was accepted; both of them offering burnt offerings as a type that they desired now to be “a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God.” Beloved, let us go into our houses with joy; let us go into our gates with praise. The atonement is finished; the High Priest is gone within the vail; salvation is now complete. He has laid aside the linen garments, and he stands before you with his breastplate, and his mitre, and his embroidered vest, in all his glory. Hear how he rejoices over us, for he hath redeemed his people, and ransomed them out of the hands of his enemies. Come, let us go home with the High Priest; let us clap our hands with joy, for he liveth, he liveth; the atonement is accepted, and we are accepted too; the scapegoat is gone, our sins are gone with it. Let us then go to our houses with thankfulness, and let us come up to his gates with praise, for he hath loved his people, he hath blessed his children, and given unto us a day of atonement, and a day of acceptance, and a year of jubilee. Praise ye the Lord? Praise ye the Lord!
This article comes from a brother-in-Christ on Linked In. His name is Newton.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 7
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
Three graphic images are developed in Scripture to illustrate how God uses suffering in pursuance of his purpose to make us holy, in .other words, Christlike. They are the father disciplining his children, the metalworker refining silver and gold, and the gardener pruning his vine. The father-children picture is already seen in Deuteronomy, where Moses says: ‘Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.’
The metaphor is taken up again in the book of Proverbs, where it is stressed that a father’s discipline is an expression of his love for his children, and the Proverbs verses are quoted in the letter to the Hebrews and echoed in Jesus’ message to the Laodicean church.!’
The Hebrews passage is the longest. It teaches that fatherly discipline marks out the true sons from the illegitimate; that God disciplines us only ‘for our good’, namely ‘that we may share in his holiness’; that at the time discipline is painful not pleasant, but that later ‘it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace’, not indeed for everybody (for some rebel against the discipline), but for those who submit to it and so are ‘trained by it’.
The second picture of God as the refiner of silver and gold occurs three times in the Old Testament, where it is made clear that the place of refinement for Israel was ‘the furnace of affliction’, and Peter applies it to the testing of our Christian faith in ‘all kinds of trials’. The process will be distressing, but through it our faith (‘of greater worth than gold’) will both be proved genuine and result in glory to Jesus Christ.
The third picture Jesus himself developed in his allegory of the vine, in which the fruitfulness of the branches (almost certainly a symbol of Christian character) will depend not only on their abiding in the vine, but also on their being pruned by the vine dresser. Pruning is a drastic process, which often looks cruel, as the bush is cut right back and left jagged and almost naked. But when the spring and summer come round again, there is much fruit.
All three metaphors describe a negative process, disciplining the child, refining the metal and pruning the vine. But all three also underline the positive result – the child’s good, the metal’s purity, the vine’s fruitfulness. We should not hesitate to say, then, that God intends suffering to be a ‘means of grace’. Many of his children can repeat the psalmist’s statement: ‘Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word’ (Ps. 119:67). For if God’s love is holy love, as it is, then it is concerned not only to act in holiness (as in the cross of Christ), but also to promote holiness (in the people of God).
As we have already seen, suffering fosters perseverance and purifies faith. It also develops humility, as when Paul’s thorn in the flesh was to keep him ‘from becoming conceited’ And it deepens insight, as through the pain of Hosea’s unrequited love for Gomer there was revealed to him the faithfulness and patience of Yahweh’s love for Israel.
Biblical teaching and personal experience thus combine to teach that suffering is the path to holiness or maturity. There is always an indefinable something about people who have suffered. They have a fragrance which others lack. They exhibit the meekness and gentleness of Christ. One of the most remarkable statements Peter makes in his first letter is that ‘he who has suffered in his body is done with sin’ (4:1). Physical affliction, he seems to be saying, actually has the effect of making us stop sinning. This being so, I sometimes wonder if the real test of our hunger for holiness is our willingness to experience any degree of suffering if only thereby God will make us holy.