Monday, February 15, 2016

"Remember who you were ... who you are, and who you will be!"

Day #47

Scripture Reading:  Deuteronomy 16 - 19 ...

Perhaps you have heard someone talk about the dates on grave markers ... Most grave stones have the date of birth and the date of death, separated by a dash.  Few of us think much about our birthday, and we think even less about the other date.  We are busy living the "dash," and oftentimes it FEELS like a dash!  We hurry here and there, trying to accomplish everything that we think we are supposed to be doing, wearing ourselves out, working desperately to fit it all in and to please God, when the reality is that God may want us to do less and spend more time with Him! God desires a relationship with those who are truly His people.  

As Moses continues to speak to the people, He reminds them to celebrate the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles.  These were special times to go to the Tabernacle, to give thanks to God, to praise Him, to worship.  "Rejoice before the LORD your God at the place He will choose as a dwelling for His Name" (16:11), which would eventually be the temple.  No other people were called by God to worship Him.  No other people received His commandments.  No other people had been delivered from another nation and watched over by God.  Moses wanted them to know who they were.

All the sacrifices pointed to the need for forgiveness for their sin.    Sin brings guilt and God is holy.  He cannot live among people who are not perfect, and nobody is perfect!  We were all conceived and born in sin and grow up to be slaves of sin unless or until God works in us by His Spirit and Word.  The people of Israel needed the tabernacle and the sacrifices and all the feasts to be able to approach God by faith, believing that He would receive them.  We know the One who was the fulfillment of all of these things, the One to whom they all pointed.

In the remainder of Chapter 17 and Chapter 18 God uses Moses to reveal more information about Who this would be.  There were three "offices" in Israel:  the King, the Priest and the Prophet.  Moses speaks first about the King.  Like the sacrifices and feasts of Israel, these offices pointed to the Messiah, the coming Ruler over God's people.  The coming King would "not consider himself better than his brothers or turn from the law to the right or to the left" (17:20).  

There was ever only one king that fit that description:  JESUS!  Paul writes in Philippians 2:6-11 that even though He was God, He humbled Himself and became obedient to all things in order to go to the cross and pay the penalty for OUR sins.  "Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." 

And this King would be "more than a king!"  Moses goes on to describe the offerings that the people were to bring to the priests, the Levites.  Moses said to them, "You must be blameless before the LORD" (18:12).  Why would God say that?  No one was blameless.  No one could be blameless.  Unless ... unless the perfect sacrifice was offered by the perfect priest - one who could stand before God without fault, who was perfect and who could make US perfect in God's sight.

Hebrews 4:14-16 tells believers that we have a High Priest who is without sin (4:15).  And there's more:  "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 10:12-14).  This priest is not only perfect Himself, but by His sacrifice He removes the sin of His people and by faith HIS righteousness is credited to us so that WE are declared perfect in God's sight, too!!!  All that the office of priest pointed to, Jesus fulfilled.  We WERE slaves, but by grace we ARE the people of God!

But how would we know any of this, unless God told us?  Thus, the office of prophet.  The prophets would bring God's Word to His people.  Moses was a prophet, and there would be others.  God would use them to guide the kings and the people and to tell them what was to come.  But Moses said to the people, "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers.  You must listen to Him" (18:15).  God said to Moses, "I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. I will put my words in His mouth, and He will tell them everything I command Him" (18:18).

Jesus was that Prophet!  He said in John 12:49:  "I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken.” These are not mere coincidences.  Jesus fulfills all three offices and His Spirit teaches us not only who we were and who we are, but who we will be!   God is at work in us to make us like Christ:  "You did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And by Him we cry, 'Abba, Father.'  The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory" (Romans 8:15-17).

You and I are living the "dash," but our hope is in Jesus.  Remember who you were ... remember who you are ... remember who you will be!  Rejoice in the Lord and give thanks for Jesus Christ!!  He is our King, our Priest and our Prophet.  He is all we need to live this life ... and forever!

"O LORD God Almighty, in the symbols You gave Your people long ago I see Jesus, my Prophet, my Priest and my King.  I hear You speak to me in Your Word and I hear the voice of My Good Shepherd assuring me that I am a child of the King.  As my High Priest He has redeemed me and removed the guilt and shame of my sin once and for all.  How I praise You, LORD, for Your wisdom in revealing Yourself through these things and pointing me to the One Who was to come so that I may have the assurance that Jesus IS my Savior and my Lord.  Give me wisdom and strength, now to run the race set before me.  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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