Sunday, June 22, 2014

"Today the LORD will appear to you ..."

Day #177:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - June 23rd

Scripture Reading:  Leviticus 7 - 9 ...

Leviticus 9:23-24 is one of the few places in the Old Testament where the LORD appeared to the people of Israel and their response was not fear!  "Moses and Aaron then went into the Tent of Meeting (the tabernacle).  When they came out they blessed the people and the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people.  Fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar.  And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown."

You could understand why the people would fall facedown before the LORD, but why the joy?  And if they were truly joyful, why did they fall facedown?  After such detailed explanations about the various offerings God called the people to bring, a few things stand out that are responsible for the joy the people of Israel were experiencing.  First, the offerings revealed God's willingness to allow the people to approach Him.  Each offering reminded the people that it was God who was inviting them to come to worship.  God said that when the priest offered the blood of the offerings he was "making atonement" with them (7:7).  God was allowing the people to "make a payment" for sin, trusting in the shedding of blood which pointed ahead to the sacrifice the Messiah would make once for all.

As the priests are ordained in Chapter 8, "Moses took the anointing oil and anointed the tabernacle and everything in it, and so consecrated them" (8:10).  To "consecrate" means "to set apart as holy."  As God told Moses to consecrate the tabernacle and everything in it, and as the priests were ordained and set apart for service at the tabernacle, the people were also consecrated and set apart as the special people of God.  No other people, no other nation on the face of the earth had been chosen by God to be HIS people.  God had made His promises to Abraham, then to Isaac and then to Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel.  This nation belonged to God ... and as a people, they still do today.

When was the last time you thought of being "consecrated" to the LORD?  When the people "shouted for joy and fell facedown" (9:24), they were at that moment realizing, some perhaps for the first time, that God was present with them.  He was there ... and He had accepted their offering.  Moses and Aaron came out of the Tent of Meeting and blessed the people, and then the glory of the LORD appeared to them.  What must that experience have been like?  FIRE came out from the glory of the LORD and consumed the burnt offering.  The sight and sound and smell combined to provide a memory that the whole assembly would not soon forget.

All of this points to believers today.  We have been consecrated not by the blood of offerings that we bring, but by the offering that GOD brings!  When God told Abraham to offer his son, Isaac, and Abraham obeyed God, God stopped him and said, "I will provide the offering" (Genesis 22:14).  God did that when He sent His Son to offer His blood as the perfect sacrifice for sin on the cross.  Through Jesus God appears to us daily through His creation, through His Word and in every detail of our lives.  God is real and He is with us.

People without the Spirit of God cannot SEE God.  God appears to His people as we live by faith.  The Spirit gives believers spiritual eyes and wisdom to hear God's Word and to understand that through Jesus we have access to the very throne of God.  By His grace we approach God without fear, with great joy, and fall facedown before Him in worship.  We know that we, too, have been consecrated ... set apart for a holy purpose. Read through some of Paul's letters to the churches and you will find him "blessing" the people, as Moses and Aaron did, and calling believers to live lives of holiness by the power of the Spirit.

All those who believe in Jesus Christ today have been chosen by God, redeemed by Christ and born again by His Spirit.  Think of this:  every day, we have the privilege of drawing near to God with great joy and bowing down in worship before Him.  Every day God appears to us as we recognize His hand at work in our lives and in our world ... and one day, with joy beyond description, we will behold the fullness of His glory and join the angels is worship.

Until then, set your mind and your heart on things above, where Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father ... and today the LORD will appear to you!!

"Our Father in heaven, it is with humility and great joy that we who believe bow before Your majesty in adoration and worship.  Thank You, Father, for the offering of Your own Son, that we may have life through Him.  Consecrate me, LORD, to serve You.  Open my eyes to behold Your glory every day through the eyes of faith.  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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