The Fire of Mercy

“Fire shall be kept burning on the altar continually; it shall not go out.” Leviticus‬ ‭6:13‬ ‭ESV

The more I read the book of Leviticus the more I gain an appreciation for it. It’s easy to get lost in the myriad of sacrifices and laws but what helps is taking a step back and looking at what’s behind all of it.

The sacrifices described in this book are a result of two things. Number one, humanity’s brokenness and rebellion. And number two, God’s desire to show mercy.

The verse from chapter six is one good indication that God loves to show mercy. He gave Israel a way to be forgiven of all of their sin over and over again. Verse thirteen shows that God was fully aware that the people of Israel would need to be forgiven over and over. The fire of the altar of burnt offerings would always be lit so that the people could always come for mercy.

God knows we’re guilty. Every single one of us. Every day we think, say, or do something that makes that true. We no longer have an altar, be we have something far greater. We no longer need to bring an animal sacrifice because God already provided a greater sacrifice for us. The fires of God’s mercy is always lit in the sacrifice of Jesus our Messiah. In Him, we all have a continual source of grace, because God loves to show mercy.

Rejoice brothers and sisters in our God’s amazing grace!

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To be Among Us

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The book of Exodus is so rich in Messianic prophecy. Already we looked at the identity of the Messiah through the title of the “I Am” and an ancient celebration that God established to be a picture of the purpose and power of the Messiah. I feel like we’ve only skimmed the surface. So much more is left to discover, even with the topics already covered.

A couple posts ago I shared my experience during the Feast of Tabernacles this year while sitting in my backyard. It was an awakening of sorts…a major redirect…because it was an encounter with the very Messiah we’ve been studying in this series. The Feast of Tabernacles is one of seven High Holy Feasts that are laden with prophetic meaning about our Messiah. I’ll cover more about it when we get to the book of Leviticus in the next month or so. For now, I want to talk simply about the Tabernacle itself.

The Tabernacle is also referred to as the Tent of Meeting. The instructions for this building project were given by God, to Moses, during the period they met on the mountaintop after crossing the Red Sea. These instructions were among many that Moses received during the Exilic phase of Israel. Many people just read over these chapters in Exodus because they don’t understand them or see the importance. I admit a blueprint isn’t the most invigorating read. But we can’t disregard the fact that six full chapters are devoted to the layout of this building. SIX. That’s more than the 10 commandments which would’ve been given at the same time. I’m not saying that the Tabernacle is more important than the 10 commandments, but they should not be tossed aside as unimportant either. They tell us as much about who God is and who the Messiah is as any of the 10 commandments and any of the other laws given by God. Exodus 25-31 are not just a blueprint for a building, they are a blueprint for the Gospel.

We could easily spend a year studying the significance of the tabernacle in God’s redemptive plan but my hope is that today’s post gives you a desire to dig in more on your own. For now, I want to show you seven features about the tabernacle and what they mean for identifying who the Messiah is and what his role would be in God’s grand story. Keep in mind, as we go through these seven things, that the objective of the tabernacle was for the people to be in God’s presence.

  1. You had to approach the tabernacle through the tribe of Judah. Back in a Genesis post, we looked at how the lineage of the Messiah would come through the tribe of Judah. The entrance to the outer courtyard of the tabernacle was in the east. Each tribe was laid out in specific places when Israel stopped and encamped. Judah’s place was in the east. To get to God, you had to go through Judah. To get to God, you have to go through the Messiah and the Messiah is from the tribe of Judah. In the book of Revelation, Jesus is referred to as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.
  2. There was only one entrance to the tabernacle. There was one door to access both the outer courtyard, the holy place, and the holy of holies. The theme of one point to the one way to access God…the Messiah. This feature builds on the last. Jesus told the crowds that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him. The Messiah, Jesus, is the door, the only door, to access God.
  3. You enter by the way of sacrifice. The first thing you’d see when you entered the outer gate would be the altar of sacrifice. This is where all the animal sacrifices were made to atone for the sins of the people. Sacrifice was necessary for sinful people to enter a Holy God’s presence. This meant that the Messiah would have to be sacrificed to clear the path for us to access God. Romans 5 talks about how the blood of Jesus justifies us and makes a way for us to escape God’s wrath. Ephesians 1 reinforces that concept by talking about how we’ve been redeemed and forgiven because of the sacrifice of Jesus.
  4. The never-ending light. Once in the holy place, you would see several objects. One of them was the lampstand that would be tended to by the priests and would never be allowed to go out. It would light the holy place. That light would allow the priests to worship the Lord correctly and serve in their priestly duties. The Messiah’s role would be to light the way to the Lord and allow us to worship God in the way we were created to. In John 8 Jesus announced that He is the Light of the World. In John 1 Jesus is called the Light of Life. The only way to see our way to God and to worship correctly is to do so through Yeshua the Messiah.
  5. The Bread of Life. Another element of worship in the holy place was the table of the showbread. The bread was used in the worship process to symbolize the sustenance provided by God to all His people. It reflected the manna that was given in the Exodus journey so that Israel would not go hungry. In John 6 Jesus tells the people that he is the Bread of Life…the greater bread than that of the manna. He is the bread from heaven given to satisfy our deepest hunger.
  6. Aroma of Prayer. Right before the vail, which divided the Holy and Most Holy place, stood the altar of incense. This is where incense burned day and night as a symbol of prayers going up before the Lord on behalf of the people. One of the roles of the Messiah is to make intercession on our behalf, for our sins before a Holy God. Romans 8 says that Yeshua lives forever to make intercession on our behalf. He is the prayer that never goes out.
  7. The Mercy Seat. There are so many more items and unique qualities about the tabernacle that we could link to the Messiah but, in my opinion, there’s no better way to wrap it up than with the symbol of God’s deep desire to show us grace. The mercy seat was located in the heart of the Holy of Holies. In a way, it was the symbol of God’s heart…and it represented mercy. The Messiah was the greatest reflection of God’s mercy. Someone who would step into our place, die on our behalf, and remove our sin, so that we could be with God. The most well-known verse in the whole of the bible is John 3:16. It’s that verse that puts into words God’s love for His creation. The next verse states the motive.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

John 3:17 (NIV)

Take heart brothers and sisters. God’s desire for you has always been to save you because He loves you with an endless love. And through the Messiah, Yeshua, He has made a way for us all.

Peace in Christ

Cleaning with a dirty rag

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I’ve been blessed these last five years to have a Window Washing business that provides my family with a little extra well-needed cash throughout the year. I’ve cleaned a lot of different types of filth off of windows during that time. You’d be amazed at what people allow their windows to look like…During one window job I had an epiphany. I know what you’re thinking: how enlightening can washing windows really be. Well on this occasion it happened to be very inspiring so I’d like to share it with you.

On this day I happened to be doing the windows on this gigantic house. If I lived in a house this size I wouldn’t want to clean my windows either. We’re talking like a 5-6 hour job here with professional equipment. So as the job went on I noticed that it was becoming more and more difficult to get the windows streak and smudge free. I would clean out my gear fairly regularly to ensure that I wasn’t transposing dirt from one window to the next, but after a while that didn’t seem to help. It began to be frustrating. I was getting so close to the end of the job but I wanted to make sure my last window got as clean as my first. It was starting to take a long time just to complete each window.

Then it hit me. I had a super stubborn smudge that would not come out no matter which part of the shammy I used. Each wipe just spread the smudge in a different direction. I just cleaned this shammy too so why wasn’t it doing the job it was designed for? Then a spiritual bomb got dropped on me. “A dirty and used rag, no matter how clean I try to get it, will never be good enough. The rag has to be new.” If you’re familiar with the teaching of Christ you probably have an idea of where this is going.

If you’ve ever used a shammy to clean before you know that no matter how much you clean it, there is still residue from previous uses. There are stains that won’t come out no matter the method of cleaning. Shammies are designed to suck up moisture and clean better than most anything else. They work so well that this can be their downfall as well. My point is, that people and shammies are very similar. We have been designed by our Creator to be so efficient, creative, intelligent, strong, funny, and so much more. Psalm 139:14 says that we have been fearfully and wonderfully made by God and Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are God’s workmanship (handiwork/masterpiece). God made each of us for a purpose and equipped us to carry out that purpose way more so than a shammy. But the similarities continue. We are all stained from life…from choices…from sin. And no matter how much we try to clean ourselves, those stains remain. Many of those stains are outwardly obvious and others are below the surface just like the ‘stuff’ held in the fibers of the shammy. We try to purify ourselves by being good, following lists, avoiding bad things, believing in ourselves, reading self help books, listening to motivational speakers, achieving high accomplishments, making money, buying nice things, keeping a smile on our faces, and so much more. All of these things are simply a facade without heart surgery. No matter how good we are in life, our goodness is like a filthy rag compared to the pure holiness of God. Our scars/stains will always affect those around us as well just like my dirty shammy was just smearing the glass. The only way for me to get those windows clean…the only way to be clean ourselves…is to be made new.

Second Corinthians 5:17 tells us that everyone who is in Christ is a new creation. Jesus Christ removes the deepest stains in anyone’s lives. God promises to erase any stain and purify anyone who calls on His name and receives forgiveness through Christ. Just check out Isaiah 1:18. God goes on to tell us in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that Christ, the Holy and Perfect One, died so that we might have the righteousness of God. So our filthy rag becomes a spotless garment pure as the driven snow. So my plea to anyone reading this, who battles with deep seeded scars, struggling to mask pain and hurts from life, if you don’t know Jesus Christ, today is your day. In Him is healing…in Him all things become new…in Him is rest and peace. No formula in life will ever work outside of Christ. Everything else is just cleaning with a dirty rag. And lets be honest, every day we get our shammy dirty in some way and Jesus is the only way to remove it.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)