Sunday, July 27, 2014

"What will YOUR meeting with God be like?"

Day #212:  Daily Bible Reading - July 28th

Scripture Reading:  Leviticus 22 - 24 ...

Someday I will stand in the very presence of the God who created the heavens and the earth and everything in them ... and so will you.  What will that meeting be like ... for me ... for you ... ?  No matter what religion people may ascribe to, or even if some don't claim to believe in any god at all, every person who has ever lived on this planet will have a meeting with God.  For many that will be a frightening moment that will result in judgment and condemnation.  People will come to that meeting with preconceived ideas about God that will be proven wrong.  But God has made a way for those who have sinned against Him to enter into His presence without fear ... with great joy and anticipation.  And God gave pictures of that way in our reading for today.

God had instructed the people of Israel to bring sacrifices to the Tabernacle, also called the "Tent of Meeting."  It was where the people met with God.  But there were very specific requirements for the sacrifices and offerings the people brought and how the priests were to offer them to the Lord.  In Chapter 22, God says repeatedly, "I am the LORD, who makes them holy" (22:9, 16).  We are not "holy" by nature and unless God MAKES us holy, we cannot enter His presence without facing His judgment.  That's the message of the Bible.  Other religions declare that you can approach God by means of your own good deeds or religious acts, but the Bible says that is not the case.

Even in the sacrifices themselves, God made it clear that only animals without any defect could be brought as an offering.  There was a reason for that:  the offerings pointed ahead to Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.  Peter wrote, "It was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed ... but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect" (I Peter 1:18-19).  But it was not only the offerings that pointed ahead to Jesus.  In Chapter 23 the seven "feasts" of Israel were instituted by God and each of them points to an event in God's plan of salvation through Jesus.

The seven feasts of Israel are the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles.  The first four took place in the spring of the year, while the last three took place in the fall of the year.  Jesus fulfilled the first four feasts in His suffering, death, resurrection and the pouring out His Spirit.  Jesus was crucified on the Passover, laid in the grave during the feast of Unleavened Bread, rose on the Firstfruits and poured out His Spirit on Pentecost.  That could not have been by accident, but was by God's design.  So what about the last three feasts?

God says that Jesus will return at the sound of the trumpet (I Thessalonians 4:16; Matthew 24:30-31).  In Revelation 7, it appears that Jesus will rapture His Church just prior to the sounding of the first of seven trumpets.  The Day of Atonement appears to be foreshadowed in Zechariah 13:1, as the people of Israel recognize Jesus as the Messiah and put their faith in Him for forgiveness, and the Feast of Tabernacles is mentioned in Zechariah 14:16.  All of the sacrifices and all of these feasts point ahead to the One who Himself would be the perfect sacrifice for sin and through whom sinners like you and me are allowed entrance into the Most Holy Place to meet with God!

In Chapter 24, God instructs Moses and Aaron to keep the lamps burning continually before the LORD.  It is as if the lamps pointed the way to the throne, and this once again points to Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and who is Himself the "Light of the world!" How vital, how necessary is the light Christ gives, for without Him there is no forgiveness, no life, no hope.  The result of meeting with God for those who do not confess Jesus Christ is the same as the blasphemer in 24:10-16 ... they will be removed from God's presence and face death - eternal death, separated from God ... forever!

But it doesn't have to be that way!  God sent Jesus into the world in fulfillment of His promise to send a Savior.  The Bible says that "God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. ... We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us.  We implore you on Christ's behalf:  Be reconciled to God.  God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him WE might become the righteousness of God" (II Corinthians 5:18-21).  God Himself has made a way for us to meet with Him ... without fear ...

... and it's called GRACE!  The undeserved favor of God is the ONLY thing that makes it possible for anyone to meet with God and be received.  In the Gospel of Jesus Christ God calls people to come to Him, and sends His Spirit to open the hearts and minds of those whom He has chosen so that we will respond in faith, trust in Jesus for forgiveness and repent of our sin, seeking to live in obedience to His Word.  God's love, wisdom, righteousness, holiness, faithfulness, mercy, compassion and grace open the door into His presence.  God will not turn anyone who comes to Him in the name of Jesus!

You have a meeting with God in your future.  Don't plan on going to that meeting and relying on your own goodness to be received.  Your offering must be perfect, without defect, and only Jesus meets the requirements.  Trust in Him, rest in Him, believe in Him and on that day when you are called before God you will be able to approach Him without fear, knowing that because of the sacrifice of Jesus, you have been made holy in God's sight, and you will enter into God's presence, to live with Him forever!

"My Father and my God, I draw near to You in prayer, knowing that is is by Your grace that even now my prayers are heard from Your throne in heaven.  I come humbly, yet boldly, for I believe Your promise that all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.  I love You, Father, and I need You ... every moment of every day.  I long to see Your face and to join with the angels and saints in worship.  Until then, I give You thanks for Your love and You grace, in Jesus' name, Amen"

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