Sunday, May 18, 2014

"The patience of our Almighty God!"

Day #142:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - May 19th

Scripture Reading:  Exodus 29 - 32 ...

How does God do it?  How does He withhold His anger and judgment from a people who are so deserving of His wrath?  And I'm not just talking about Israel!!  As we come to Chapter 29, God is revealing to Moses the details of the tabernacle and the consecration of the priests who will serve there ... Aaron and his sons.  While He is doing so, the people are convincing Aaron to build a golden calf:  "Make us gods who will go before us" (32:1).  God had just brought them out of Egypt with a mighty hand and led them across the Red Sea on dry land.  And now, Aaron announced, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt" (32:4).

With good reason God said, "I have seen these people and they are a stiff-necked people.  Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them.  Then I will make YOU into a great nation" (32:9-10).  But Moses interceded for Israel and asked God to spare them for the sake of HIS Name and His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Israel (Jacob).  God had promised to make their descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and to give them the land of Canaan as an inheritance.  If He now destroyed them it would look as if He could not keep His promise.

Moses was sincerely concerned for the honor and glory of God.  As such, he is a picture of Jesus Christ, interceding for us and giving His life in our place.  Yet it was God Himself who called and appointed Moses and it was God who sent His own Son to be our Redeemer.  It was God's patience and God's mercy that spared Israel then and that spares us now.  Moses even offered to take their place:  "Now, please forgive their sin - but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written" (32:32:).   But Moses could not take the place of the people of Israel.  One greater than he would come to redeem God's people, to bear His wrath and to bring forgiveness.

All of this is a grand picture of God's purpose for His people, then and now.  Not all of the people of Israel believed in God.  Paul writes in I Corinthians 10:5 that God was not pleased with most of them and their bodies would lie scattered over the desert as they wandered for forty years in the wilderness.  God had a remnant, a chosen few whom He knew and who believed in Him.  God has a remnant today whom He has chosen and called to serve Him.  We who believe today are part of a special group of people ... special not because of ourselves but because of the calling we have received from the Lord.  Few people seem to really understand the connection between the picture God presents in Exodus and the reality in our day.

The whole idea of the priesthood presents a picture of the offering that Jesus made, that only He could give, and then His call to believers, expressed so beautifully in Revelation 1:5-6:  "To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood, and has made US to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father - to Him be glory and power forever and ever!  Amen."  As the priests needed to be consecrated with the blood of the offerings, so we who believe are consecrated by the blood of Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, and set apart to serve God not only in this life but FOREVER!!!

What was a picture will become a reality.  As the altar and everything around it needed to be cleansed by a sin offering to make atonement (payment) ... (29:36), so that God would declare it to be HOLY ... and as Aaron needed to make an offering once a year to atone for sin in order to be "holy to the Lord" (30:10) ... so you and I need to meet the Lord and be consecrated and anointed in order to declared holy in His sight and to serve as priests before Him.  All the articles of the tabernacle needed to be consecrated, set apart, purified.  "You shall consecrate them so they will be most holy, and whatever touches them will be holy.  Anoint Aaron and his sons and consecrate them so they may serve me as priests" (30:29-20).

Praise God, Jesus is our sin offering and through His death He is made the atonement, the payment, for our sins.  As the writer of Hebrews explains:  "And by that will (GOD's will), WE have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. ... When this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God.  Since that time He waits for His enemies to be made His footstool, because by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy" (Hebrews 10:10, 12-14).

We who believe today have access to the Most Holy Place (Hebrews 10:19) by the blood of Jesus.  We are called to serve as priests, offering our lives as living sacrifices to the King of kings and the Lord of lords, to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the Almighty God, our Creator!!  So live life to the fullest!  Serve the Lord with zeal and give thanks to God for His patience toward you and the gift of His Son and of His Spirit.  Rejoice in God's amazing grace and live as one who has been declared holy in the sight of God ... until that day when you see Him face to face and are made like Him, in perfect righteousness and holiness.  That will be more than a picture - that will be reality!!

"My Father and my God, I thank You for Your patience, Your love and Your grace in Christ Jesus.  While people clamor for wealth and position and pleasure in this world, all who know You and who have been made holy by the blood of Christ find our greatest joy in being Your servants.  Help me to rejoice in You and to find my greatest pleasure in living for You.  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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