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Exodus 31:12-18; Enter Into Rest

06/24 Exodus 31:12-18; 35:1-3 Sabbath Rest

Six Times in Exodus

Whenever God speaks we should listen. When God repeats himself, we had better pay close attention. But if God were to say something six times, wouldn’t that be an indication that this is something dear to his heart and important for us to hear?

Exodus 31:12-18 is the fourth of six times in Exodus that the Sabbath is addressed.

The first, in chapter 16, came shortly after God saved his people, bringing them out of slavery, conquering their enemies, providing for their needs in the wilderness. When they grumbled, he supplied them with bread from heaven six days out of seven as a test, to see if they would walk in obedience to their God or not. He said:

Exodus 16:23 … “This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.”’ …26 Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none.”

Of course, the people failed the test.

Exodus 16:27 On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. 28 And the LORD said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? 29 See! The LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Remain each of you in his place; let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

This was before the law was given, and this was a gift! God’s gift to his freed slaves; the gift of rest.

In commandment #4 of the ten commandments, God said:

Exodus 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

In chapter 23, where God is expanding on what life lived in relationship with him should look like, he reiterates:

Exodus 23:12 “Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your servant woman, and the alien, may be refreshed.

Then this passage, here at the end of his instructions for building his tent,the place where he will dwell in the midst of the people, after he designates the workmen who will do the work on the tabernacle, he reminds his people of the primary importance of the Sabbath rest.

Exodus 31:12 And the LORD said to Moses, 13 “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you. 14 You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. 15 Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. 16 Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. 17 It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’” 18 And he gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.

In chapter 34, after the people violated God’s covenant, after Moses had broken the two tablets, after the people repented and as God was graciously renewing his covenant with his sinful people, he says:

Exodus 34:21 “Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest. In plowing time and in harvest you shall rest.

Finally, in chapter 35, as work is about to begin on this portable worship center, a place that in every detail would point to Jesus,

Exodus 35:1 Moses assembled all the congregation of the people of Israel and said to them, “These are the things that the LORD has commanded you to do. 2 Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. 3 You shall kindle no fire in all your dwelling places on the Sabbath day.”

This issue of Sabbath rest is apparently very important to God, important enough to repeat it six times in this foundational book of the Old Testament.


When we were in chapter 20, studying God’s ten words to his people, we saw that there are differences of opinion among believers in Jesus on how to apply these scriptures to our lives today. We learned in Galatians 4 that to observe a day as a way to gain favor with God would be turning away from the grace of Christ to a different gospel. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in the finished work of Christ alone, and not by any observance or effort on our part.

We saw in Romans 14 that there is room for differences of opinion among Christians on secondary issues like food and drink and days of the week, and we are not to violate our own conscience and we are not to pass judgment on our brothers and sisters who see it differently.

In Colossians 2, it is pointed out that we are all lawbreakers who receive forgiveness because God nailed the record of our debt that stood against us to the cross of our Lord Jesus. We are cautioned to

Colossians 2:16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

Here we are clearly told that the Sabbath was a shadow of things to come, and that the substance, the real thing that casts the shadow, is Jesus Christ. So let’s examine the contours of this shadow to see what it teaches us about our Jesus, and then let’s look up from the shadow into the reality of the face of our Lord.

Observations in Exodus 31

Just a few observations in our text in Exodus. First, in verse 12 there is an emphatic word that is translated ‘above all’ in the ESV; ‘verily’ in the KJV; ‘surely’ in the NAS. This is important. If you don’t get that I’ll highlight it by repeating it six times in this book alone. If that isn’t enough to get your attention, I’ll attach the death penalty for ignoring the Sabbath. If there is something that God takes seriously enough to make a capital offense, that should be an indication that this is something he wants us to pay attention to. It seems that the threat of death is one thing that tends to get a human’s attention.

Notice how God talks about the Sabbath. He says it is ‘my Sabbath’. He says it is to be holy for you and you are not to profane it. He says is is for ‘solemn rest, holy to the Lord’. This is not just a day off, a weekly vacation day from our regular routine. This is a day set apart, set aside for something; or rather for someone. This is ‘my Sabbath’. This is not just a day of rest but ‘solemn rest’, and it is to be set apart ‘to the Lord’.

It Is God Who Sanctifies

Notice also that through the shadow of the Sabbath, God wants us to know something. He says in verse 13 that ‘it is a sign between me and you …that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you.’ In Exodus we have seen a lot of sanctification. Everything in God’s tent was to be sanctified or set apart, consecrated, made holy, designated for God’s use alone. Even God’s servants the priests were to be set apart or sanctified to him. In chapter 29, we are told that it is the glory of God that will set apart this tent for his exclusive use.

Exodus 29:42 …at the entrance of the tent of meeting before the LORD, where I will meet with you, to speak to you there. 43 There I will meet with the people of Israel, and it shall be sanctified by my glory. 44 I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar. Aaron also and his sons I will consecrate to serve me as priests. 45 I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. 46 And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.

It is the glory of God’s presence that sets everything apart for him. The Sabbath is to be a reminder that ‘I the LORD sanctify you.’ You do not sanctify yourselves. You do not sanctify each other. You are not sanctified by some special rite or ritual or thing. You and I are set apart for God by God himself.

How is the Sabbath rest a reminder that it is God who sanctifies us? Remember what the Sabbath means. ‘Shebat’ means to cease or stop. You are to labor or work for six days and then stop. Cease. Desist. Nothing that we do can sanctify us. It is the Lord that sanctifies you. So stop! Stop trying to set yourself apart! Stop trying to impress God with your moral uprightness and personal holiness. Stop thinking that there is anything you can do to make yourself acceptable to a holy God. God invites us to rest in him, to depend on him, to trust him.

God Is the Giver of Every Good Thing

But if I stop working, how will I eat? Who will provide for my needs? This stop work day is a reminder that it is God who provides for my needs every day through my obedient work, but that God is not dependent on my work to provide for my needs. God is provider, whether through my efforts, or in spite of my efforts, or altogether without my efforts. This stop work day is a reminder that every good thing comes to us as a gift from God.

1 Corinthians 4:7 …What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

We have an awesomely generous God who loves to give. For our good and for our pleasure, he wants us to know that everything comes from him. In Old Testament books like Ezekiel (16) and Hosea, God likens his people to a wife that takes the thoughtful gifts of her generous husband and hawks them to pay for lovers to sleep around with. What you are searching for in the emptiness of repeat affairs, I am offering in the satisfaction of rich and exclusively intimate relationship. So that we do not destroy ourselves searching for pleasure in things that will bring ruin, God invites us into relationship with him, and points us to the fact that every good thing comes from him.

Working is Different from Waiting

The prophet Isaiah highlights the difference between the one true God and every false God.

Isaiah 64:4 From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.

Every false God asks us to work for them, to serve them, to give them things that they need. Requirements are extensive and demands are high. We worship the all-sufficient God, who lacks nothing and needs nothing from us.

Acts 17:24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.

Romans 11:35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Who has ever heard of a God like this? Who has ever heard of a God besides you, who works for those who wait for him? Stop working and receive. Stop working and rest. Trust. Depend. Allow God to do the work for you. Allow him to do his work in you ‘that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you’.

This contrast between working for and resting in is spelled out in Romans 4.

Romans 4:1 What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

If you work, then what you get is wages, and you have every right to be proud of yourself for earning them. If you do not work, but instead beg, then anything you receive is a gift, and you have no right to boast except in the generosity of the giver. We are in the position of a disabled beggar, unable to work, but dependent on the benevolence of our most generous God. We can boast only in his greatness.

In fact, if we look back to our text in Exodus, we see that anyone who attempts to work when God commands us to rest will surely die. Our work profanes or pollutes or desecrates or defiles God’s rest. Ephesians tells us (2:8-10) that we are God’s workmanship, and that our salvation is a gift of God’s grace, not our own doing, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Titus tells us (3:5) that God our Savior, he saved us not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy. Galatians tells us that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, and that by the works of the law no one will be justified’ (2:16); that we receive the Spirit by hearing with faith and not by the works of the law (3:2); that we do not boast in the flesh but only in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (6:13-14); that to attempt to be justified by the law is to nullify the grace of God and to say that Christ died for no purpose (2:21). Jesus “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk.10:45). Jesus cried out from the cross “it is finished” (Jn.19:30). Any attempt to add our efforts to his finished work is to negate grace, to despise Christ, and to scorn God’s generosity.

Invitation to Enter and Enjoy

Hebrews exhorts us to enter in to the rest of God by faith (Heb.3-4).

Hebrews 4:10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

Our passage in Exodus tells us that ‘in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed (31:17); literally, he stopped and took a breath. God was not winded when he completed his work. Instead, he stopped to enjoy what he had made. He saw that it was very good. He took pleasure and delight in his finished work. Now that Jesus has finished the work of redemption on the cross, he invites us to enter into his rest. He invites us into his presence to enjoy the fruit of his finished work. He invites us to ‘enter into the joy of your master’ (Mt.25:21,23). Jesus desires that we be with him where he is, to see his glory (Jn.17:24). We are invited in, where ‘in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore’ (Ps.16:11). Listen:

Psalm 36:7 How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. 8 They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.

Jesus says ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink’ (Jn.7:37). Jesus says:

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Stop working. Come. Rest. Find satisfaction. Be refreshed in the finished work of Jesus.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~

June 24, 2012 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , | Leave a comment

Exodus 30:34-38; The Fragrant Incense of Prayer

06/03 Exodus 30:34-38 The Fragrant Incense

Incense and Prayer

Several weeks ago, we looked at Exodus 30:1-10, which described the building of the golden altar for incense. Then we looked at the ransom money, the bronze washbasin, the holy anointing oil, and now, at the conclusion of the the instructions for how the tabernacle was to be constructed and used, we come back to a description of how the incense is to be made. We saw when we looked at the altar for incense, that the incense is a symbol of prayer.

Psalm 141:2 Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,

and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!

In Luke 1, when Zechariah was serving in the temple, we are told:

Luke 1:9 …he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense.

The hour of incense was a time for praying. Morning and evening, prayers to God were offered with the holy incense. Jesus taught that:

Mark 11:17 …‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’… (Is.56:7; cf. Mt.21:13; Lk.19:46)

And in the book of Revelation, we see the scene in heaven, where there are

Revelation 5:8 … golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

Revelation 8:3 And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, 4 and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.

Our prayers are a fragrant incense offered to God.

Exodus 30:34 The LORD said to Moses, “Take sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum, sweet spices with pure frankincense (of each shall there be an equal part), 35 and make an incense blended as by the perfumer, seasoned with salt, pure and holy. 36 You shall beat some of it very small, and put part of it before the testimony in the tent of meeting where I shall meet with you. It shall be most holy for you. 37 And the incense that you shall make according to its composition, you shall not make for yourselves. It shall be for you holy to the LORD. 38 Whoever makes any like it to use as perfume shall be cut off from his people.”

Gospel Centered Prayer – Based on Substitution

We looked at the fact that the altar of incense is not mentioned until after the altar for sacrifice; because our sins must be covered by the blood of our sacrificial substitute before our prayers can be acceptable to a holy God.

This incense was made of sweet spices; many of them are difficult to identify today. The word translated ‘stacte’ literally means ‘drops’ and refers to the oozing gum resin from trees, possibly myrrh. ‘Onycha’ is thought to be an aromatic powder derived from scraping mollusk shells. ‘Galbanum’ is a very strong smelling gum resin taken from the stalk of the Ferula plant. Frankincense is a resin from Boswellia trees.

One curious ingredient is salt. The incense was to be ‘blended as by the perfumer, seasoned with salt, pure and holy’. Why salt? Salt was highly valued as a preservative in the ancient world, but incense does not go bad and would not need a preservative.

We find instructions in Leviticus that:

Leviticus 2:13 You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. You shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be missing from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.

Salt, a preservative that makes things last, is symbolic of the permanence of the covenant agreement between God and his people. We find the phrase ‘covenant of salt’ several other times in the scriptures (Num.18:19; 2Ch.13:5). ‘Covenant of salt’ was a way of saying a covenant that would last or be preserved, synonymous with ‘an everlasting covenant’. Adding salt to the incense offered in the holy place would be a reminder that approach to God in prayer was based on a covenant relationship, where forgiveness was granted and access was opened through the sacrifice of a substitute.

Our prayers are to be gospel-grounded, gospel-centered prayers. When we approach God, we can approach him only on the basis of the finished work of Jesus on the cross. We must always be mindful of the covenant God has made with us, the New Covenant in Jesus’ blood. We cannot come to God on our own merits. We must come in the name of Jesus, on the merits of Jesus, trusting in and relying on the price Jesus paid in full on the cross. Our only access to the Father is through his Son Jesus.

Meeting with God in Prayer

But what is prayer? We see that prayer, by definition, is entering into the presence of God, talking with him, enjoying fellowship with him, making our requests to him, interceding with him for others. This is a fragrant pleasing aroma to him. For us as believers, it is a sin not to pray. Sin is missing the mark; falling short of doing what we were created to do. We were designed to have fellowship with God; we were created to commune with him, we were made for intimacy and fellowship with the infinite God. When we fail to take seriously this privilege of prayer, we miss the mark; we fail to be what we were designed to be – beings in relationship with our sovereign Creator.

This was the purpose of the tabernacle – to teach Israel what it means to be in relationship with a holy God. God says:

Exodus 25:8 And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.

The first piece of furniture God described was the box that held the terms of his covenant relationship with his people, together with its cover or mercy seat, where he would be propitiated. He said:

Exodus 25:22 There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.

Then, in chapter 29, after describing the twice daily burnt offering, he says:

Exodus 29:42 It shall be a regular burnt offering throughout your generations at the entrance of the tent of meeting before the LORD, where I will meet with you, to speak to you there. 43 There I will meet with the people of Israel, and it shall be sanctified by my glory. … 45 I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. 46 And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.

This is highlighted in the instructions for the placement of the golden altar of incense.

Exodus 30:6 And you shall put it in front of the veil that is above the ark of the testimony, in front of the mercy seat that is above the testimony, where I will meet with you.

We see this theme repeated in verse 36; the incense is to be put ‘before the testimony in the tent of meeting where I will meet with you’. God desires to meet with his people, to dwell in their midst and to be their God. Prayer in essence is meeting with God.

Misuses of Prayer

James tells us that there are two potential misuses of prayer.

James 4:2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

Neglect of Prayer

The first misuse of prayer is simply not praying. You do not have because you do not ask. How often are we guilty of not spending time with God in prayer? Jesus strongly encouraged and invited us us to pray. Jesus said:

Matthew 7:11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Matthew 21:22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Luke 18:1 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.

John 14:13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

John 16:23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. …26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.

I think the worst misuse of prayer today is our total neglect of prayer. We fail to place this fragrant incense before the throne of God. We have this blood bought privilege of bold access to the Father through the Son under the direction of the Holy Spirit, and we simply don’t bother. We are too busy to pray. We are too distracted to pray. We have more important things to do than pray. To say this sounds blasphemous: Too busy! More important things to do! More important than entering the presence of the Creator of the universe to talk to him?! But how often is that exactly what we say by our actions? We have been loved by the Father with an everlasting love. We were ransomed with the priceless blood of God the Son. We are being empowered and transformed by God’s Holy Spirit. We have the King of kings living in us, and we don’t bother to talk with him.

Not For You

The other misuse of prayer mentioned by James is that we think prayer is for us and about us. He says:

James 4:2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

We misuse prayer when we use it as a tool to get what we want. ‘You desire and do not have… You covet and cannot obtain… You ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions’. When we ask out of covetousness, wanting something we don’t have, when we ask out of discontent with what God has given us, when we ask because we are after something, then we ask wrongly.

We are told that this incense is most holy. ‘You shall not make it for yourselves. It shall be for you holy to the LORD’. This incense was not for personal use or private pleasure. Prayer is primarily and ultimately not for you. It is for the LORD. A common misconception is that prayer is how we get stuff from God. That is a distortion of what prayer is. Prayer is given to us by God, it is communion with God, it is all about God, and it it ultimately for God, for his pleasure. We are to talk to God, not to get stuff from him, but to deepen our relationship with him. This is what Jesus taught.

Matthew 6:5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Do not use prayer to get praise from others. Do not pray to impress God. Do not use prayer as a tool to get what you want. This is not what prayer is for. Spend time privately in communion with your Father.

It is not wrong to bring our needs to God in prayer. Jesus taught us to pray ‘give us this day our daily bread’. But our first concern must be ‘may your name be magnified’

Matthew 6:9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (cf. Lk.11:2-4)

Of course we are to ask God for what we need. We honor him when we take our requests to him because we are declaring that he is the only one who can meet our needs. But we must not attempt to use him as if he were a genie in a bottle who exists to give us what we want.

Illustrations of Asking

Maybe an illustration would help. Think of the parable known as the parable of the prodigal son (Lk.15). Really, it is a parable about a father and two sons. One son came to his father and asked for his share of the inheritance. This was equivalent to saying ‘dad, I don’t care about you, I just want your stuff. I don’t want to wait until you are dead to get my share, so give it to me right now.’ He asked his father and got what he wanted and then he got as far away from his father as he could as quickly as possible. How often do we approach God this way? ‘I don’t care about you, but I know you are rich and I want the gifts you give so I can go away and enjoy them on my own’. This is a severe example of misuse of prayer. But the older brother is not any better. He sees his broken, humbled, and repentant brother welcomed back into relationship with his father, and he is bitter, angry, jealous, and resentful. He dishonors his father by refusing to attend the feast, and when his father comes out to entreat him, he answers his father with disrespect.

Luke 15:29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’

He was outwardly obedient, but this episode reveals his heart. He was self-righteous and he also was more interested in his father’s stuff than the father himself. He was doing all the right things as a means to get what he wanted. He was not interested in relationship; either with his lost brother or with his father. He was doing what he thought he had to do to get what he wanted from his father so he could go off and party with his friends. Two bad examples at opposite ends of the spectrum – one doing everything wrong and one doing everything right; both more interested in the gifts their father gave than in the father himself.

But where is the good example? What should prayer look like? What does it look like to want the relationship even if the gifts never come? What does it look like to want God to get glory more than wanting my own needs to get met? Jesus told his disciples:

John 12:27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” …

Jesus, wrestling in the garden with the prospect of becoming sin for us, of bearing in his body the sins of the world, of drinking the cup of the righteous wrath of his Father against my sin,

Mark 14:36 And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

Open honest communication. Plain asking. Humble submission to the will of the Father. Priority placed not on the gift, but on relationship with the giver. A desire above all for God to be glorified in all things. This is a sweet aroma, well pleasing to the Father. May we be those who continually offer up a sweet aroma of prayer to God. 

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~

June 3, 2012 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment