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Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

Fruit and Abiding in Jesus; John 15:1-17

09/10 Fruit and Abiding in Jesus; John 15:1-17 Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20170910_fruit-abiding-in-jesus.mp3

We’ve taken the summer to look at the fruit the Holy Spirit produces in the life of the believer. We saw that love love is willingly self-giving for the good of the other. Joy is unaffected by circumstances, overwhelms suffering, rejoices in trials. Peace is a quiet confidence and restful awareness that all is well. Patience bears a long time with others and graciously forgives the wrongs of others. Kindness is palatable, functional, fitting; not severe, biting, harsh or chafing. It is redemptive. Goodness is the generous outward expression and overflow of a kind heart, especially to the undeserving. Faithfulness is doing what the Master commands when he commands, in utter dependence on him, taking risks in service to others. Gentleness or meekness is an awareness of deep personal need, my own spiritual poverty, and in helplessness seeking help from God alone. Self Control is Spirit supplied inner strength over lesser desires.

We have seen that this is not nine things; this is one thing; fruit. It is whole Christian character. In Isaiah 40:26 God brings out the starry hosts ‘by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing.’ Spirit produced character will be comprehensive; the whole fruit will be growing.

Last week we looked at 2 Corinthians 3 and saw that this spiritual transformation comes through looking. Looking to Jesus.

2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Today I want to look at Jesus’ teaching on fruitfulness in John 15. Jesus talked a bit about fruit. He said that a healthy tree bears good fruit, and that a tree is known by its fruit; you will be able to recognize a false teacher by the fruit they bear (Mt.7, 12; Lk.6). He told a parable about fruitful and unfruitful soils (Mt.13; Mk.4; Lk.8). He told a story about efforts to get an unfruitful fig tree to produce fruit (Lk.13), and he even cursed a fig tree that had leaves but no fruit (Mt.21; Mk.11). He told a story about a vineyard that the master developed and rented out to tenant farmers, and when he returned to receive his share of the fruit, they refused (Mt.21; Mk.12; Lk.20).

Jesus talked about fruit as evidence of the nature of a tree, and warned about some of the things that prevent fruitfulness. But in John 15, he tells us how to be fruitful, how to bear much fruit. In the gospel of John, the word ‘fruit’ appears 10 times, and 8 of those are in John 15:1-16. Jesus is instructing us how to bear much fruit.

In John 13 Jesus says:

John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

The fruit of love is evidence of a relationship with Jesus. He repeats this new commandment to love in 15:12 and 17. We are to have Jesus’ own love in us. He says in John 14

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Jesus gives us his own peace. Then in John 15:11 he says

John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Jesus gives us his own joy. Love as I have loved you, my joy in you, my peace I give to you. Jesus’ love, Jesus’ joy, Jesus’ peace in us. Oh, and Jesus talks much about the promised Holy Spirit in John 14-16. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is Jesus’ own love, joy, peace in us.

The False Vine and the True

Look with me at John 15 to see how this fruit is produced in us.

John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.

Fruit is the issue of this passage. The vine is meant to bear fruit. In using a vine as an illustration, Jesus is not making something up. He is picking up an Old Testament illustration that would be familiar to his hearers. Many times in the Old Testament, Israel is compared to a vine. Isaiah 5 is one place we could look.

Isaiah 5:1 Let me sing for my beloved my love song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. 2 He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes. 3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. 4 What more was there to do for my vineyard, that I have not done in it? When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes?

Sound familiar? This is almost the same story Jesus tells after he cleansed the temple, when his authority was challenged. The master of the vineyard is looking for fruit. Isaiah 5:7 says:

Isaiah 5:7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, an outcry!

Israel was a false vine that yielded wild grapes, that refused to give the master the fruit that was his due. Jesus is contrasting himself with unfaithful Israel. I am the true vine. I will produce good fruit for my Father in the proper season. Notice, Jesus says ‘I am the true vine’ and he says someone is caring for the vineyard. Someone is cultivating and tending the vineyard to ensure maximum fruitfulness. My Father is the farmer. Look at Isaiah 27.

Isaiah 27:2 In that day, “A pleasant vineyard, sing of it! 3 I, the LORD, am its keeper; every moment I water it. Lest anyone punish it, I keep it night and day; 4 I have no wrath. Would that I had thorns and briers to battle! I would march against them, I would burn them up together. 5 Or let them lay hold of my protection, let them make peace with me, let them make peace with me.” 6 In days to come Jacob shall take root, Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots and fill the whole world with fruit.

Jesus is the true fruitful vine. His Father is the vinedresser. Fruitful branches are tended to maximize fruitfulness; dead wood is cleared away to allow room for healthy growth.

Pruning and Cleansing

John 15:2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.

He prunes fruitful branches to maximize fruitfulness. Anyone familiar with this? Anyone have any experience with this? There is a play on words here in the original. Takes away is [αἴρει] and prunes is [καθαίρει]. They sound similar. And then in verse 3, clean is [καθαροί].

These two words are related. In fact, verse 2 might be translated ‘every branch that bears fruit he cleanses that it bear more fruit. Already you are clean.’ We find this exact phrase ‘you are clean’ [ὑμεῖς καθαροί ἐστε] if we turn back two chapters to John 13, where Jesus laid aside his outer garments and washed his disciples’ feet. When Peter objected, Jesus answered him

John 13:8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean [ὑμεῖς καθαροί ἐστε], but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

Judas was a picture of the dead branch that was taken away. Peter was completely clean. He had had a bath. But he needed his feet washed. Two chapters later, in John 15, Jesus clarifies.

John 15:2 …every branch that does bear fruit he [cleanses], that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.

Peter was completely clean because of the word Jesus spoke. Peter was cleansed with a word. But Peter who was completely clean needed his feet washed. Fruitful branches are branches that are already clean because of Jesus’ word. But fruitful branches need to be cleansed, that they may bear more fruit.

Ephesians 4 picks this up; cleansed by the washing of the water with the word.

Ephesians 5:25 …Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

We see the tension here between the already and the not yet. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. You are completely clean. You are justified. By the blood of Jesus you have been once for all cleansed of all your sin. But there is an ongoing tending of the vine, washing of the feet, cleansing, pruning, in order to maximize fruitfulness. The Father is the vinedresser. The Father is faithful to cleanse those who are are already clean. The Father is actively tending his vineyard.

Abiding and Independent Inability

Notice, we have not yet been given the identity of the branches. So far, we have Jesus the true vine, and his Father, the vinedresser.

John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

Abide. The branch is incapable of bearing fruit apart from the vine. Here we finally get the identity of the branches. Jesus is the true vine, we are the branches. Not until we are told that we are incapable of bearing fruit apart from the vine are we told that we are the branches.

I grew up with a grapevine in our backyard. It is almost impossible to tell where the vine ends and the branches begin. They are one. That is Jesus’ point. The branch is in the vine, and the vine is in the branch. They are one. They are virtually indistinguishable. There is a vital connection. Abide in me and I in you. Jesus is in me, and I am abiding in Jesus. I am totally dependent on Jesus. I can bear no fruit without being connected with Jesus. This is why there are good works that are called dead works that are not the fruit of the Spirit. There are a lot of kind, generous, loving, patient, self-controlled people in the world who don’t know Jesus. They may be loving, but it is not Jesus’ love. It is not Jesus’ sap running through their veins that produces supernatural self-sacrificial love. And it may look great. But it is worth nothing if it is apart from Jesus. Only fruit that is produced as an outworking of Jesus in me is worth anything at all.

Don’t forget the connection here with pruning and cleansing. We could look to Hebrews and see that ‘the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives’ (Heb.12:6).

Hebrews 12:10 …he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Pruning, cleansing, discipline is painful. But it is ‘that we bear more fruit’ that ‘later it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness.’ As the Father is faithful to prune and cleanse, we are to push in to Jesus and draw our everything from Jesus. It is for our good. The Father is the vinedresser, and he is at work for our good. We can trust his good design even in the painful process of pruning.

Practical Help for Abiding

So Jesus is the true vine, the Father is the vinedresser, we are clean and connected to Jesus through his life-giving word, and as we are being pruned for maximum fruitfulness we are to press into Jesus as Jesus lives his life in us and through us.

Jesus Word in Us, Pursuing God’s Glory, Asking in Dependence

Practically what does it mean to abide? What does this abiding look like? Day to day? Jesus doesn’t leave us guessing.

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. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

What does it mean to abide in Jesus and have Jesus abide in us? To have Jesus abide in us is to have his words abide in us. Remember, we are clean because of his word spoken to us. He says to dead things ‘LIVE!’ and there is life. And he sustains that life by his word. Jesus is the Word made flesh, and he abides in us as his words are the life in our veins. Get Jesus’ words into you! Meditate on his words for they are your life! Listen to him! Hide his word in your heart! Let his heart capture your heart. What is Jesus’ heartbeat? What is Jesus’ passion? ‘By this is my Father glorified.’ Jesus lives to glorify his Father. Let his heart be your heart. Let this be your supreme want. I want in all things to glorify the Father. I want in all things to have Jesus’ character shine through my life, for this glorifies the Father. And ask! Ask God to work his fruit in you. Ask Jesus to put his love in you, his joy in you, his peace in you for the glory of the Father. Ask whatever you wish as you pursue more than anything else the Father’s glory. Ask the Father through his pruning in your life to put Jesus on display for all the world to see!

Get Jesus’ words into you. Let Jesus’ words permeate your thinking. Pursue the glory of God above all else, and ask whatever you wish! This is what it looks like for Jesus to abide in you. Meditating on his word, pursuing his glory, coming to him needy, acknowledging your dependence and inability and asking.

Receiving Jesus’ Love and Joyfully Loving

What does it look like to abide in Jesus?

John 15:9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

What does it look like to abide in Jesus? Abide in my love. Let my love wash over you and saturate you. Place yourself under the Niagara Falls of my love until it permeates every pore of your being and defines you. Do you have any idea how much the Father loves his only begotten Son? Jesus’ love for us is that love; the overflow of the Father’s love for him! The Father delights in every perfection of his only Son. Jesus takes perfect pleasure in you! As the Father delights in Jesus, Jesus delights in you! To abide in his love is to receive. To feel his pleasure. To enjoy.

John 15:10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Do not misunderstand. This obedience, the Son’s obedience to the Father is not in order to earn his love. The Son is forever secure in the Father’s love. The obedience of the Son is not tedious and burdensome. The obedience of the Son to his Father is the joyful response and overflow of love received. It is the joy of the Son to pursue what pleases his Father.

What is the command we are to keep out of the joyful overflow of being securely loved?

John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

The joyful overflow of abiding in Jesus’ love is loving others with the love with which he loved us. This is not burdensome obedience; it is joyful obedience. It is not slavish obedience, blindly doing what I am told without understanding why. No, Jesus has called us friend! Jesus invites us to knowingly join him in his ultimate pursuit of glorifying his Father. Abiding in his love and advancing the Father’s fame by loving others with the love with which he loved us.

Confident Certainty

Jesus says:

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. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

Jesus is the true vine. This is all Jesus’ doing. We are selected by Jesus, cleansed by Jesus, appointed by Jesus to abide in him as he abides in us, to bear fruit in him, and that our fruit should abide. This is the certainty we have. This fruit, this love is not temporary or intermittent. This is abiding, lasting. It can only be lasting because it is not my love. This is Spirit produced Spirit sustained supernatural love. It is Jesus’ love in me, flowing through me to others. Jesus’ words abiding in us, abiding in Jesus’ love for us, joyfully pursuing God’s glory by loving others, in prayerful dependence on his strength and his abundant supply.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

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September 11, 2017 Posted by | Fruit of the Spirit, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leviticus 14:33-57; Cleansing the House

09/11 Leviticus 14:33-57; Cleansing the House; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20160911_leviticus-14_33-57.mp3

Chapters 11-15 of Leviticus deal with what makes a person unclean, unfit to enter God’s presence, and how a person can be cleansed and restored to fellowship with God. Chapter 11 deals with categories of creatures that were or were not permitted for food, and the consequences of contact with the carcass of an animal. Chapter 12 addressed the issue of uncleanness resulting from the blood involved in childbirth. Chapters 13-14 deal with various skin diseases and how to be cleansed. In addition to human skin ailments, Chapter 13 also deals with diseases in leather or fabrics. Chapter 14 also deals with diseases in the stones of a house. That will be our focus today. Then chapter 15 deals with normal and abnormal bodily discharges. We plan to take that up next week.

Leviticus 14:33 The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 34 “When you come into the land of Canaan, which I give you for a possession, and I put a case of leprous disease in a house in the land of your possession, 35 then he who owns the house shall come and tell the priest, ‘There seems to me to be some case of disease in my house.’

As we have seen so often, Leviticus is a word directly from the Lord. ‘The LORD spoke, saying…’ ‘All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness’ (2Tim.3:16).

May we find here today appropriate reproof, correction, and training in righteousness.

Notice this section looks forward to the time when Israel will be settled in the land. So far, all the other instructions had the flexibility to apply equally to Israel in the wilderness camped around the tabernacle and Israel in the promised land with the temple in Jerusalem. But this section specifically addresses ‘when you come into the land of Canaan, which I give you for a possession.’ This deals not with tents camped around the tent of the Lord, but with houses of stone and timber and plaster in the land. As a side note, this is a confirmation that Leviticus was written early, spoken to Moses and Aaron before Israel left Sinai.

God the Sovereign Source of Blessing and Disaster

This is a confirmation of God’s promise. Not ‘if you come into the land of Canaan,’ but ‘when you come into the land of Canaan.’ God takes credit. You will enter in, because I will give it to you for a possession. God is reminding them here that every good thing comes from God. Every good thing is a gift from the Lord.

But this is also a sobering reminder that bad things also come ultimately from the Lord. ‘And I put a case of leprous disease in a house in the land of your possession.’ God takes credit for both good and bad. God will bring his people into the land. God may also put a disease in a house, and it may lead to the house being condemned and destroyed as a complete loss. Nothing is said here why God would do this. Could it be discipline for sin? Perhaps… Perhaps not. We are not told. We tend to look for reasons. Why did my car break down? Why did my sewer back up? Why cancer? Why has disaster overtaken me? What did I do wrong? What did I fail to do that I ought to have done? Is God angry with me? Or is this the evil one attacking me? Notice the common denominator of these speculations is a desire to justify oneself. Did I do something wrong and God is upset, or did I do something right and the devil is upset? And the focus is on me and my comfort. This text says that God might cause something really disastrous to happen to you, and it doesn’t say why.

In Isaiah 45, God is calling the Persian king Cyrus to rebuild his temple in Jerusalem. God says:

Isaiah 45:5 I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, 6 that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other. 7 I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity [ra; evil], I am the LORD, who does all these things. (cf. Lament. 3:38; Amos 3:6)

God is shifting our focus from us to him. We are concerned with our own well-being. I want things to go well for me, and I want to avoid calamity. God is lifting our eyes from ourselves to himself. ‘I am the LORD, there is no other. That people may know across the globe that there is none besides me; I am the LORD and there is no other.’ I am sovereign over sickness, over sorrow, over suffering, over disease, over disaster. I am the great Creator and I have rights to do what I will with my creation. ‘I am the LORD, who does all these things.’

Of course, it is wise to ask ‘is God trying to get my attention? What am I supposed to be learning from all this?’ But it is not necessarily about me. It might be bigger than me. We get that kind of bigger perspective from the book of Job. Horrible, unimaginable things happened to Job. He lost all that he had in a single day. His 500 yoke of oxen and 500 female donkeys were stolen by the Sabeans and all his servants were killed. Fire from heaven fell and burned up his 7,000 sheep and all his servants attending them. A Chaldean raiding party stole his 3,000 camels and killed those servants. A great wind collapsed his oldest son’s house and killed all 7 of his sons and his 3 daughters. Only four servants, one from each disaster scene survived to bring him the news. Why? What did he do? The book introduces Job as a man ‘blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.’ Then it must have been a Satanic attack! Yes, that is true, to an extent. It was a Satan who ‘went out from the presence of the Lord and struck Job.’ But we could also say that the LORD incited and then allowed Satan to attack. ‘Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?’ In chapter 2, God again says to Satan ‘have you considered my servant Job? …He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.’ This time Job was struck ‘with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.’ Job’s response? ‘Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?

Job 1:20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” 22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.

Job understood that ‘the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away’ and that in the midst of it all, God is worthy of worship. 42 painful chapters later, Job says:

Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. …5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you;

Sometimes it doesn’t help to ask why. We need to simply trust and rest and cling to the LORD. We can confidently and expectantly hold on to Romans 8:28.

Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

I can be confident that whatever difficulty I face today, God is in complete control, and he is working in it for my good. For those who love God, for those who belong to God through faith in Jesus, for those who are called according to his purpose, we know that all things work together for good.

Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

Romans 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

So if God puts a case of leprous disease in your house and it is condemned and destroyed, you can trust that God is in control and he is working even in that for your good.

A Diseased House

Leviticus 14:34 “When you come into the land of Canaan, which I give you for a possession, and I put a case of leprous disease in a house in the land of your possession, 35 then he who owns the house shall come and tell the priest, ‘There seems to me to be some case of disease in my house.’ 36 Then the priest shall command that they empty the house before the priest goes to examine the disease, lest all that is in the house be declared unclean. And afterward the priest shall go in to see the house. 37 And he shall examine the disease. And if the disease is in the walls of the house with greenish or reddish spots, and if it appears to be deeper than the surface, 38 then the priest shall go out of the house to the door of the house and shut up the house seven days. 39 And the priest shall come again on the seventh day, and look. If the disease has spread in the walls of the house, 40 then the priest shall command that they take out the stones in which is the disease and throw them into an unclean place outside the city. 41 And he shall have the inside of the house scraped all around, and the plaster that they scrape off they shall pour out in an unclean place outside the city. 42 Then they shall take other stones and put them in the place of those stones, and he shall take other plaster and plaster the house. 43 “If the disease breaks out again in the house, after he has taken out the stones and scraped the house and plastered it, 44 then the priest shall go and look. And if the disease has spread in the house, it is a persistent leprous disease in the house; it is unclean. 45 And he shall break down the house, its stones and timber and all the plaster of the house, and he shall carry them out of the city to an unclean place. 46 Moreover, whoever enters the house while it is shut up shall be unclean until the evening, 47 and whoever sleeps in the house shall wash his clothes, and whoever eats in the house shall wash his clothes.

Deep, Spreading and Persistent

We have been looking at skin diseases in Leviticus. Chapters 13 and 14 deal not only with surface issues on people, but also on cloth or leather articles, and on houses. As we have seen, the priest is to inspect the issue to see if it is a serious issue, if it is something that makes one unfit to enter the presence of the Lord. The evidence of a serious issue is ‘if it appears to be deeper than the surface’ and ‘if it spreads’. The priest is looking for deeper issues, persistent issues, things that tend to spread and grow. The diseased house is to be evacuated and sealed up for a week, and re-inspected. If the house is ultimately condemned, it is to be destroyed and none of the building materials are to be reused. The danger of an unclean house is that it hinders the ability of the one who has contact with it from entering the presence of the Lord.

The Kindness and Patience of God

Although this is a very serious issue, notice the kindness and patience of God. First, all the belongings are to be removed before the house is inspected. This allows the homeowner to keep his possessions out of quarantine and ultimately from being destroyed. And at the first sign of an issue the house is not immediately condemned and destroyed. A waiting period is established. The house is re-inspected Then the least invasive means is employed with the intent of preserving the home. Infected stones are removed, the house is scraped and re-plastered. Only if all this fails to resolve the issue is the entire house condemned.

Verses 48-53 give instructions almost identical to those earlier in the chapter for the curious ritual of cleansing a leper for making atonement for a house that has been cleansed, and then verses 54-57 serve as a concluding summary of chapters 13-14.

Jesus The Great High Priest and the House of God

I invite you to look with me to Jesus, our Great and Gracious High Priest. Let’s look at some of Jesus’ actions through the lens of Leviticus.

In John 2, after Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding at Cana, at the beginning of his ministry, we are told:

John 2:13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

Jesus, if you will, as our Priest, is inspecting a house. It is the temple, which he calls his Father’s house. And he finds it diseased. So he scrapes the inside of the house. He drives all that is corrupt out of the house. And he leaves. But he does not shut the house up. Instead he returns and fills the house with his teaching. For over 3 years he is in and out of the house, spreading healing and his life giving good news. Then we pick up the story in the last week of his life,

Luke 19:37 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives— the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” 41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” 45 And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.” 47 And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, 48 but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words. (cf. Mt.21:12-16; Mk.11:15-18)

Jesus came back to inspect his Father’s house. The disease had returned and spread. It was indeed deeper than the surface. Once again he scraped the house clean. But instead of submitting to the authority of the Great High Priest, the chief priests and scribes were seeking to kill him. The next day,

Mark 13:1 And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” 2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” (cf. Mt.24:1-2; Lk.21:5-6)

The house is condemned. It must be torn down and destroyed. There was a persistent disease in the house.

A New Temple

But Jesus will build a new kind of house. In Ephesians 2, Paul tells the church, those blood-bought believers from every ethnicity that you are:

Ephesians 2:19 …members of the household of God 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Peter tells those who have been born again through the living word of God that:

1 Peter 2:5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Paul tells the Corinthian church:

1 Corinthians 3:9 …You are God’s field, God’s building. …16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

We as Christ’s church are being built together into a dwelling place for God. And God still cares about the purity of his temple. From the seven letters to seven churches in Revelation, we see that Jesus is still inspecting his church. Jesus is involved, aware. Jesus is patient, he is gracious. But he will purify and perfect his church.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

September 11, 2016 Posted by | Leviticus, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leviticus 14:1-32; Cleansed!

09/04 Leviticus 14:1-32; Cleansed!; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20160904_leviticus-14_1-32.mp3

Completely Leprous and Clean (13:12-13)

Last week we looked at Leviticus 13, a chapter that describes in gross detail different kinds of skin disease, and how to identify if it is the kind of disease that makes one unclean and cuts one off from the community. Common characteristics of skin conditions that were considered unclean were those that appeared to be deeper than the skin, symptoms of a deeper problem, and those that spread, that didn’t go away or continued to get worse over time. One curious case that we didn’t look at in detail is in Leviticus 13:12-13.

Leviticus 13:12 And if the leprous disease breaks out in the skin, so that the leprous disease covers all the skin of the diseased person from head to foot, so far as the priest can see, 13 then the priest shall look, and if the leprous disease has covered all his body, he shall pronounce him clean of the disease; it has all turned white, and he is clean.

How is it that when the disease breaks out and covers every inch of his flesh, he is clean? Isn’t that a clear case of ‘unclean’? Is that a typo? If a person cannot point to even one patch of healthy skin, that would seem to make him wholly unclean, but rather the verdict is ‘clean’ and he is welcomed into the community and into the sanctuary. This seems “a complete paradox to all save those who understand God’s mode of dealing with sinners” [CHM p.363]. C.H.Spurgeon said:

How many there are, who, as they come up here, are ready to confess that they have done many things which are wrong, but they say, “though we have done much which we cannot justify, yet there have been many good actions which might almost counterbalance the sin. Have we not been charitable to the poor, have we not sought to instruct the ignorant, to help those that are out of the way? We have some sins, we do confess, but there is much at the bottom which is still right and good and we therefore hope that we shall be delivered.”

“I do not know,” said Martin Luther, “when men will ever believe that text in which it is written Christ died for our sins. They will think that Christ died for our righteousness, whereas He died for our sins. Christ had no eye to our goodness when He came to save us, but to our badness.” A physician, when he comes to my house, has not an eye to my present health. He does not come there because I am healthy, but because I am sick and the more sick I am, the more call for the physician’s skill and the more argument does my sickness yield why he should exercise all his craft and use his best medicines on my behalf. Your only plea with Christ is your guilt. Use it, Sinner, use it as David did when he said, “Lord have mercy upon my iniquity, for it is great!” If he had said “Have mercy upon my iniquity, for it is little,” he would have been a legalist and would have missed his mark. But when he said, “Have mercy, for it is great!” he understood the Gospel riddle—that strange paradox at which Pharisees always kick and which worldlings always hate—the glorious fact that Jesus Christ came into the world “not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” [C.H.Spurgeon, The Cleansing of the Leper, no.353, Dec. 30, 1860]

Andrew Bonar writes “Is it not when a soul is fully sensible of entire corruption, …that salvation is nearest? A complete Saviour for a complete sinner?” [Bonar, p.234].

Consequences of Leprous Skin Diseases

Remember, the consequences of being pronounced unclean.

Leviticus 13:45 “The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ 46 He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp.

And remember, there was little hope for the one pronounced unclean. The procedure for making that declaration was not hasty or subjective, but when it happened, it was devastating. Separation from family, from friends, from society, from the worshiping community. It was a living death. That makes it so surprising when we get to chapter 14

Leviticus 14:1 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “This shall be the law of the leprous person for the day of his cleansing. He shall be brought to the priest, 3 and the priest shall go out of the camp, and the priest shall look. Then, if the case of leprous disease is healed in the leprous person,

Leviticus 14 gives instructions for the day of his cleansing, when he is healed. Wait, what? We skipped a chapter. How did the leper get healed? What did he do? What treatments did he undergo? What medication did he take? Last chapter he is kicked out of the community, forced to live alone, to wear the label and declare himself unclean to anyone who would come near. Now he is healed. Did I miss something? If you are the one being declared unclean, don’t you want to know what you have to do to get healed? Don’t tell me what kind of ceremony I go through after I get healed, I want to know how I get healed. Leviticus has no cure. Leviticus identifies the problem. There is in fact nothing proscribed for the leprous person to do. The only thing a leper can accomplish on his own is making everything he touches unclean. In this passage describing the ceremony for pronouncing the leper clean, he is not the doer. Things are being done to and for him. He shall be brought to the priest. The priest shall go out of the camp. Notice, the diseased person has been excluded from the community, and is not permitted to seek out the priest himself. He is not permitted to enter the camp. The priest must go out to him. Remember, we are Christians, looking for glimpses of Jesus in Leviticus, because it is all about Jesus! Jesus our great High Priest does not remain in glory waiting for us to make our way to him. He comes to us when we are outsiders.

The Ceremony

Leviticus 14:4 the priest shall command them to take for him who is to be cleansed two live clean birds and cedarwood and scarlet yarn and hyssop. 5 And the priest shall command them to kill one of the birds in an earthenware vessel over fresh water. 6 He shall take the live bird with the cedarwood and the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, and dip them and the live bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the fresh water. 7 And he shall sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed of the leprous disease. Then he shall pronounce him clean and shall let the living bird go into the open field.

This is one of the most elaborate rituals in the Old Testament. It has some similarities to Numbers 19, where we find rituals for cleansing those who have come in contact with a grave or a dead body. That ceremony also uses cedarwood, scarlet yarn, hyssop, and living water. This connection to another ritual that purifies from contact with death makes sense, because the diseased person who is declared unclean is living in a state of separation as if he were dead. Why these things?

Possibly cedarwood because it is durable and long lasting. King Solomon “spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall” (1 Ki.4:33) as a way to refer inclusively to all plants from the greatest to the least.

A scarlet cord marked out Rahab and her house for deliverance in the destruction of Jericho. Scarlet yarn was used extensively in the construction of the tabernacle, and the uniforms for the priests, so it would be a connection with the sanctuary.

Hyssop was a plant used in the Passover to paint blood on the doorposts of the Hebrew homes. It was used in the covenant making ceremony at the foot of Mt. Sinai to sprinkle the people with blood (Ex.24; cf. Heb.9:19). In David’s prayer of confession in Psalm 51 he prays:

Psalms 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Hyssop was used as a sponge to extend the sour wine to Jesus on the cross (Jn.19:29).

Fresh water, literally living water was water that had not been stagnant. Jesus referred to himself as the source of living water (Jn.4:10-11, 7:38).

The earthenware vessel, or clay pot was an ordinary container, basically made out of dirt. 2 Corinthians 4:7 speaks of holding a treasure in jars of clay as a way to describe the dust to dust frailty of our human existence.

I find this ceremony a bit funny. It reminds me a bit of some of the things my brother did to me when I was younger. “hey Rodney, hold these two wires… Stand right here on this X and pull this string… Hold this while I light the fuse”. Something tells me this is not going to end well. So you take these two live birds, and some red string, and a piece of wood, and a plant, and a bucked of water. And you kill one of the birds over the bucket and don’t forget to hold on to the live bird. Have you ever killed a bird? That’s messy! But don’t let go of the live bird. Now dip all the stuff in the bloody water. Yes, the live bird too. It’ll be fine. Now use the plant to sprinkle blood all over the guy, but keep holding on to the live bird that you dipped in the blood. Now take the live bird, make sure it’s really wet and bloody and let it go…

But even in this strange ritual we can see a picture of Jesus. Living water in a clay pot. Two birds; one clearly representing death, the other possibly picturing resurrection? Blood applied to a diseased person to declare him whole. Remember, all this is done to for the leper, and to the leper. He is not doing anything. He is passive. At the end of this he is pronounced clean.

Washing and Shaving

After he is declared clean, the person being cleansed becomes more involved in the ceremony. Up to this point he could do nothing. Now that he is declared clean he becomes an active participant in the ceremony.

Leviticus 14:8 And he who is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes and shave off all his hair and bathe himself in water, and he shall be clean. And after that he may come into the camp, but live outside his tent seven days. 9 And on the seventh day he shall shave off all his hair from his head, his beard, and his eyebrows. He shall shave off all his hair, and then he shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and he shall be clean.

There is a seven day process that includes laundry, shaving and bathing, and returning to the camp, but not going home yet. Shaving is often a sign of mourning or humiliation. Have you ever seen someone who shaved – all their hair – even their eyebrows? This would be especially shocking in a culture that is not to trim the corners of your beard. A man who shaved his beard and every bit of hair off his body would look a little like a newborn baby. Could this be a picture of new life after death, a new birth of sorts? Jesus said ‘you must be born again.’

The Eighth Day

Leviticus 14:10 “And on the eighth day he shall take two male lambs without blemish, and one ewe lamb a year old without blemish, and a grain offering of three tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, and one log of oil. 11 And the priest who cleanses him shall set the man who is to be cleansed and these things before the LORD, at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 12 And the priest shall take one of the male lambs and offer it for a guilt offering, along with the log of oil, and wave them for a wave offering before the LORD. 13 And he shall kill the lamb in the place where they kill the sin offering and the burnt offering, in the place of the sanctuary. For the guilt offering, like the sin offering, belongs to the priest; it is most holy.

The eighth day is a day is a day of new beginnings. The former leper is now welcomed back in the camp, but not yet into his own home. First he must come before the Lord. The former leper who was excluded from the community is now brought in before the Lord at the entrance to the tent of meeting. The first sacrifice is a guilt offering, which we learned from Leviticus 5 makes restitution for an unintentional sin against the holy things of the Lord. We were created to bear the image of God and declare his glory, but the leprous skin disease has distorted the image of God in him. He must offer first a guilt offering. But this guilt offering is unique.

Leviticus 14:14 The priest shall take some of the blood of the guilt offering, and the priest shall put it on the lobe of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. 15 Then the priest shall take some of the log of oil and pour it into the palm of his own left hand 16 and dip his right finger in the oil that is in his left hand and sprinkle some oil with his finger seven times before the LORD. 17 And some of the oil that remains in his hand the priest shall put on the lobe of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot, on top of the blood of the guilt offering. 18 And the rest of the oil that is in the priest’s hand he shall put on the head of him who is to be cleansed.

This is similar to the ordination offering for the priests, from which some of the blood was applied to different body parts to cleanse their ears from listening to lies and slander, to cleanse their hands from doing wrong, to cleanse their feet from walking away from the Lord. The former leper was then anointed with oil on these same body parts, to set apart his ears to hear the words of the Lord, to do what he commands, to walk in his ways. He was anointed with the oil of gladness, free again to enjoy God’s presence.

Leviticus 14:18 …Then the priest shall make atonement for him before the LORD. 19 The priest shall offer the sin offering, to make atonement for him who is to be cleansed from his uncleanness. And afterward he shall kill the burnt offering. 20 And the priest shall offer the burnt offering and the grain offering on the altar. Thus the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be clean.

These are the regular offerings made in the tabernacle or temple. The final 12 verses repeat the eighth day ritual for a leper who cannot afford three lambs. He can substitute pigeons or doves for two of the lambs, but the guilt offering must still be a lamb. The former leper is now fully welcomed back into fellowship with God and with other members of the community. He now no longer carries the stigma of unclean. Atonement has been made and he is clean.

Jesus and Leprosy

Jesus’ interaction with a leper is recorded in Matthew 8, Mark 1 and Luke 5.

Luke 5:12 While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 13 And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him. 14 And he charged him to tell no one, but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” (cf. Matthew 8:2-4; Mark 1:40-45)

Remember, the priests had the responsibility to inspect and determine if a person was clean or unclean. They had no power to heal. This leper, full of leprosy, knowing his desperate need, entered a city to find Jesus. He recognized in Jesus something more than the priests. Jesus could heal. Jesus touched this diseased man, and with a word he immediately healed him. A man full of leprosy was transformed instantly. And then Jesus commands him to go get Leviticus 14 done. Go show yourself to the priests make the offering for your cleansing as a proof to them. As a witness, as a testimony to the unbelieving priests. I can just imagine a priest coming back from this encounter. ‘Where have you been, and what happened to you?’ He’s completely splattered in blood, and has a bit of a stunned look on his face. ‘You know that Leviticus 14 thing? Oh, you mean with the birds and the string and the wood and the water? Yeah… Wait, that’s for cleansing a leper… Yeah…’ They may have never used Leviticus 14 before. What is this a testimony of? When John sent disciples to ask Jesus ‘are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?’

Luke 7:22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

Cleansing of lepers was a sign that God had come down and the messianic age was unfolding. The system that could merely identify problems without offering any cure was coming to an end. The one who could get to the root of the problem and heal was now on the scene. Jesus is both all-powerful and full of compassion. He is both able and willing to heal. If you will come to Jesus acknowledging that ‘in me, that is, in my flesh dwells no good thing’ (Romans 7:18)

If you will repent of your dead works and believe in Jesus (Heb.6:1), if you will fall on your face and beg him ‘Lord, only you can make me clean’, Jesus will stretch out his hand and touch you right where you are, as you are, in all your filth and uncleanness, and even today, based on his finished work, he will say ‘I will, be clean’.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

September 6, 2016 Posted by | Leviticus | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leviticus 5:1-13; The Sin Offering – Omission

05/15 Leviticus 5:1-13; The Sin Offering – Sins of Omission ; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20160515_leviticus-5_1-13.mp3

Forgiveness. That is a powerful word. It is a treasure to be forgiven. To be forgiven means that I have done something wrong against someone, and that person has released me from the guilt and penalty of my trespass. The highest concentration of the word ‘sin’ in the Old Testament occurs right here in chapters 4 and 5 of Leviticus, dealing with the sin offering which secures atonement and forgiveness. This is the fourth offering listed in Leviticus, and the one that deals with specific sins. Leviticus 4 deals with the sins of the anointed priest, of the whole congregation, of a leader, and of a common person.

Leviticus 4:2 …If anyone sins unintentionally in any of the LORD’s commandments about things not to be done, and does any one of them, 3 if it is the anointed priest who sins, thus bringing guilt on the people,

13 “If the whole congregation of Israel sins unintentionally and the thing is hidden from the eyes of the assembly, and they do any one of the things that by the LORD’s commandments ought not to be done, and they realize their guilt, 14 when the sin which they have committed becomes known,

22 “When a leader sins, doing unintentionally any one of all the things that by the commandments of the LORD his God ought not to be done, and realizes his guilt, 23 or the sin which he has committed is made known to him,

27 “If anyone of the common people sins unintentionally in doing any one of the things that by the LORD’s commandments ought not to be done, and realizes his guilt, 28 or the sin which he has committed is made known to him,

These are unintentional sins, or sins of human weakness or failure. They are sins of commission, doing what ought not to be done. With a sacrifice appropriate to the status of the offender we are told:

4:20 And the priest shall make atonement for them, and they shall be forgiven.

26 So the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin, and he shall be forgiven.

31 And the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven.

35…And the priest shall make atonement for him for the sin which he has committed, and he shall be forgiven.

He shall be forgiven. God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, …forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin (Ex.34:6-7). When we approach God with the appropriate sacrifice, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.

The first 13 verses of Leviticus 5 are a continuation of the sin offering, this time dealing with sins of omission.

Leviticus 5:1 “If anyone sins in that he hears a public adjuration to testify, and though he is a witness, whether he has seen or come to know the matter, yet does not speak, he shall bear his iniquity; 2 or if anyone touches an unclean thing, whether a carcass of an unclean wild animal or a carcass of unclean livestock or a carcass of unclean swarming things, and it is hidden from him and he has become unclean, and he realizes his guilt; 3 or if he touches human uncleanness, of whatever sort the uncleanness may be with which one becomes unclean, and it is hidden from him, when he comes to know it, and realizes his guilt; 4 or if anyone utters with his lips a rash oath to do evil or to do good, any sort of rash oath that people swear, and it is hidden from him, when he comes to know it, and he realizes his guilt in any of these; 5 when he realizes his guilt in any of these and confesses the sin he has committed, 6 he shall bring to the LORD as his compensation for the sin that he has committed, a female from the flock, a lamb or a goat, for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin. 7 “But if he cannot afford a lamb, then he shall bring to the LORD as his compensation for the sin that he has committed two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. 8 He shall bring them to the priest, who shall offer first the one for the sin offering. He shall wring its head from its neck but shall not sever it completely, 9 and he shall sprinkle some of the blood of the sin offering on the side of the altar, while the rest of the blood shall be drained out at the base of the altar; it is a sin offering. 10 Then he shall offer the second for a burnt offering according to the rule. And the priest shall make atonement for him for the sin that he has committed, and he shall be forgiven. 11 “But if he cannot afford two turtledoves or two pigeons, then he shall bring as his offering for the sin that he has committed a tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering. He shall put no oil on it and shall put no frankincense on it, for it is a sin offering. 12 And he shall bring it to the priest, and the priest shall take a handful of it as its memorial portion and burn this on the altar, on the LORD’s food offerings; it is a sin offering. 13 Thus the priest shall make atonement for him for the sin which he has committed in any one of these things, and he shall be forgiven. And the remainder shall be for the priest, as in the grain offering.”

Sins of Omission

Where chapter 4 deals with sins of commission, doing what ought not to be done, chapter 5 includes sins of omission, failing to do what one ought to do. We usually think of sin as doing something wrong. But did you know that neglecting to do what is right is also sin?

Remember the parable Jesus told in Matthew 25 of the master who entrusted his servants with his finances. When he returned, he found two of the servants had invested and doubled their master’s money. But one servant hid what he had been given and then returned it to the master.

Matthew 25:26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! … 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.

This servant was called ‘wicked and slothful’ because he failed to do what he ought to have done. He didn’t steal, he didn’t lie, but he didn’t do what he ought to have done.

James 4:17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

In Leviticus 5, there are 4 specific cases laid out of failure to do what one ought to do, which bring guilt and require atonement. Verse 1 is the failure of a witness to testify under oath. Verse 2 is failure to be cleansed after contact with an unclean animal. Verse 3 is failure to be cleansed after contact with an unclean human. Verse 4 is failure to fulfill a rash oath.

Leviticus 5:1 “If anyone sins in that he hears a public adjuration to testify, and though he is a witness, whether he has seen or come to know the matter, yet does not speak, he shall bear his iniquity;

Failure to testify when you are a witness to a legal case is a serious offense. The ninth commandment is

Exodus 20:16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

To fail to testify is a form of bearing false witness. This is serious. To fail to testify could cause great injury to another person. Now this verse doesn’t deal with the motive. It could be that you knew about the case but you didn’t want to be inconvenienced by having to testify. It could be that you withheld evidence in order to protect the guilty party. It could be that you heard about the case and fully intended to testify, but you got busy, it slipped your mind, you simply forgot. I knew what I was supposed to do, I meant to do it, but I got distracted.

Distraction

This is huge! How much of our lives are nothing more than a distraction? Let me ask you a question: What is the chief end of man? [according to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, Man’s chief end is to glorify God, (1Cor.10:31; Rom.11:36) and enjoy him forever. (Ps.73:24-26; Jn.17:22,24)]. You know your purpose. You know what your life is meant for. You know what you were made for. How are you doing? Well, I had really good intentions, but I had this and that distraction, and the day just slipped away from me. The week slipped away. The month slipped away. The year slipped away. This life, this world, is full of distractions. This world is filled with meaningless trivialities that shamelessly devour our moments and our days. We have an adversary who would like to keep us from fulfilling our mission, and I believe his prime tactic is distraction. We are meant for great things! We are meant to bring praise and honor and glory to our great King! We are meant to enjoy him! But… well… something came up. I still have what you gave me, but I’ve done nothing with it. I guess there were more important, well, more urgent, more pressing things, and I meant well, but I just never got around to it. We must battle distraction! We must wage war against distraction! Distraction is everywhere around us. We must lay aside the things that entangle us. We must fix our eyes on Jesus and move unwavering toward our goal.

James 4:17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

Failure to Seek Cleansing

The next two deal with issues of uncleanness or impurity.

Leviticus 5:2 or if anyone touches an unclean thing, whether a carcass of an unclean wild animal or a carcass of unclean livestock or a carcass of unclean swarming things, and it is hidden from him and he has become unclean, and he realizes his guilt; 3 or if he touches human uncleanness, of whatever sort the uncleanness may be with which one becomes unclean, and it is hidden from him, when he comes to know it, and realizes his guilt;

Leviticus chapters 11-16 deal with specific issues of uncleanness. Some uncleanness is contracted by doing what is morally wrong. Much uncleanness is contracted by the unavoidable necessities of daily life. Dealing with a dead animal, the monthly cycle, childbirth, intimacy, many natural, even good things produce ceremonial uncleanness. Gordon Wenham in his commentary gives us a helpful diagram. [G.Wenham, NICOT, p.19, 26]

←← SACRIFICE ←←

Sanctify                           Cleanse

[holy]                          [clean/common]                        [unclean]

Profane →                            Pollute

→→ SIN and INFIRMITY →→

The normal or ordinary state of things is that which is clean or common. That which is clean can become unclean by the pollution of sin or infirmity. Even normal things can bring pollution and make someone who is clean unclean. But through the appropriate sacrifice, what is unclean can be cleansed and made clean. That which is clean can be set apart to be holy. But the unclean must never come into contact with the holy, or death will result. Our goal is to avoid becoming unclean where possible, but to always seek to be cleansed from uncleanness. To remain willfully or by negligence in a state of uncleanness is to ultimately be cut off from God’s people. The issue in verses 2-3 seems to be either uncleanness that was contracted unknowingly, or uncleanness that was contracted and forgotten about. Uncleanness that is not dealt with by the appropriate sacrifice then brings guilt.

Failure to Fulfill a Foolish Vow

The fourth category of sin in this passage deals, like the first one, with oaths. In the first, a person is obligated under oath to testify and fails to testify. In this, a person has obligated himself by taking a rash oath and failing to fulfill it.

Leviticus 5:4 or if anyone utters with his lips a rash oath to do evil or to do good, any sort of rash oath that people swear, and it is hidden from him, when he comes to know it, and he realizes his guilt in any of these;

The classic example of a rash oath is Jephtha in Judges 11.

Judges 11:30 And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD and said, “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, 31 then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.”

When Jephtha returned home victorious, his daughter, his only child, came out of his house to meet him.

Deuteronomy 23:21 “If you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay fulfilling it, for the LORD your God will surely require it of you, and you will be guilty of sin.

We have a tendency to speak bigger than we know. We tend to make promises that are not in our power to keep. Proverbs gives us wisdom.

Proverbs 20:25 It is a snare to say rashly, “It is holy,” and to reflect only after making vows.

And Ecclesiastes says:

Ecclesiastes 5:4 When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. 5 It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.

Jesus taught:

Matthew 5:33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. (cf. Mt. 23:16-22; James 5:12)

What we say matters. We are to be people of our word. “… if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man” (James 3:2).

Confession for Sin

Leviticus 5:5 when he realizes his guilt in any of these and confesses the sin he has committed,

There is guilt in sins of omission whether we realize it or not. But when we realize our guilt, we are to confess our sin. Confession. This word means to expose or reveal. Confession is the opposite of concealment. When this word has God as its object, as is often the case, it is translated praise or thanksgiving. When it has man as its object, it is translated confess. Exposure of the true nature of God naturally leads to praise; while revealing true character of man necessarily leads to confession of sin. O God, give us eyes to see ourselves as we truly are, as you see us.

Psalm 32:1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. — Selah

5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. — Selah

In Solomon’s prayer of dedication of the temple, he asked God to

1 Kings 8:30 … listen to the plea of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. And listen in heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive. 33 …because they have sinned against you, and if they turn again to you and acknowledge your name and pray and plead with you in this house, 34 then hear in heaven and forgive the sin… 35 “… because they have sinned against you, if they pray toward this place and acknowledge your name and turn from their sin, when you afflict them, 36 then hear in heaven and forgive the sin … 38 whatever prayer, whatever plea is made by any man or by all your people Israel, each knowing the affliction of his own heart and stretching out his hands toward this house, 39 then hear in heaven your dwelling place and forgive and act and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways ( for you, you only, know the hearts of all the children of mankind), …46 “If they sin against you— for there is no one who does not sin—… 47 yet if they turn their heart …, and repent and plead with you … saying, ‘We have sinned and have acted perversely and wickedly,’ 48 if they repent with all their mind and with all their heart … 49 then hear in heaven your dwelling place their prayer and their plea, and maintain their cause 50 and forgive your people who have sinned against you, and all their transgressions that they have committed against you… (cf. 2 Chronicles 6:21-39)

Confession is clearly a heart issue. Merely going through the motions of offering the appropriate sacrifice without a contrite heart is an abomination to God. Confession is acknowledging and exposing the affliction of my own heart, turning from sin, turning to God, acknowledging his perfect character. Confession is a heart issue, turning toward God, seeking him.

Forgiveness in Christ

But ultimately forgiveness is not about us. Forgiveness comes from God. We see in Leviticus God’s heart to forgive his people who come to him in confession. A lamb or a goat was to be offered for sin. But if one could not afford a lamb, he could bring two doves or two pigeons. But if anyone could not afford two birds, he could bring about 2 lbs. of flour. God desired to make a way for everyone to come.

Today, we come with empty hands. Today we bring no offering but a broken and contrite spirit, because the once for all offering has been sacrificed, the perfect Lamb, without spot or blemish, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn.1:29).

When Paul preached Jesus in the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch, he said:

Acts 13:38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.

We have a better, a more effective sacrifice. We have Jesus!

John says:

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

1 John 2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Walk in the light. Confess your sins. He is faithful and just to forgive and to cleanse.

1 John 2:12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

May 18, 2016 Posted by | Leviticus, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 6:9-11; And Such Were Some Of You

10/06 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Such Were Some of You ; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20131006_1cor6_9-11.mp3

1Cor 6 [SBLGNT]

6:9 Ἢ οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ἄδικοι θεοῦ βασιλείαν οὐ κληρονομήσουσιν; μὴ πλανᾶσθε· οὔτε πόρνοι οὔτε εἰδωλολάτραι οὔτε μοιχοὶ οὔτε μαλακοὶ οὔτε ἀρσενοκοῖται 10 οὔτε κλέπται οὔτε πλεονέκται, οὐ μέθυσοι, οὐ λοίδοροι, οὐχ ἅρπαγες βασιλείαν θεοῦ κληρονομήσουσιν. 11 καὶ ταῦτά τινες ἦτε· ἀλλὰ ἀπελούσασθε, ἀλλὰ ἡγιάσθητε, ἀλλὰ ἐδικαιώθητε ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ καὶ ἐν τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν.

1Cor 6 [ESV2011]

6:1 When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 4 So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? 5 I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, 6 but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? 7 To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

This is one of the most beautiful descriptions of the transforming power of the gospel found anywhere in the bible, and it comes in the context of sexual immorality and lawsuits in the church. The darkest of sins provide the backdrop for the grace of God to be seen in all its vivid majesty. The Corinthian believers were ripping each other off, taking each other to court, wronging and defrauding their own brothers. They were displaying their misunderstanding and misapplication of the cross. They were not living in sync with the gospel. Paul says that by taking one another to court, they are already admitting defeat, defeat of a much greater magnitude than they would ever sustain in the courts of their day. Jesus asked ‘what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:36)’ Those in the church in Corinth were in grave danger of being self-deceived on the most serious of all issues; they might believe they were on their way to heaven, when in reality they would spend eternity separated from the presence of God.

Unforgiveness will Keep You From God’s Kingdom

This issue of forgiveness really is that serious. Jesus taught us to pray that God would

Matthew 6:12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And then he said:

Matthew 6:14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Lawsuits in the church was evidence of a lack of forgiveness. What a terrifying thing to forfeit the forgiveness of God because of my own self-centeredness and greed. If I demand my own rights, I just might get what I deserve, and that is a fearful prospect. Jesus told a story that drives home this point. Peter was asking him how often we should forgive a brother who sinned against him. The story is in Matthew 18.

Matthew 18:23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

To feel the weight of this story, we need to understand that one talent was the equivalent of about 20 years wages of a laborer. So the debt the servant owed, ten thousand talents, was the equivalent of 200,000 year’s wages. In contrast, a denarius was one day’s wages for a laborer, so the servant was owed 100 day’s wages. If you only earned a dollar a day, the servant was owed $100 by his fellow servant, but he owed the king 52 million dollars (and remember, that is if you only make one dollar a day; if you make $30,000 a year, that would be $6 billion). At first read, we might think the king harsh, who would sell the servant, his wife, and his children, so that the debt could be paid. But when we realize the magnitude of his debt, the obscene embezzlement that he was guilt of to put himself in that much debt, the insane lifestyle it would take to spend so much, the punishment seems mild. And the king was willing to forgive him the entire debt! Now we begin to feel how outrageous this servant’s attitude was toward his fellow servant who had wronged him so little.

Our refusal to forgive demonstrates that we do not understand what it cost us to be forgiven. Unforgiveness toward a fellow servant shows what little appreciation we have for the weight of our own debt before God. This kind of unforgiving attitude displays that our heart has not been touched at all by the good news.

Unrighteous Will Not Inherit the Kingdom of God

Paul asks the fifth of ten questions in 1 Corinthians indicting their ignorance of basic truth. ‘Do you not know?’ These are things that should be self-evident truths, plain for all to see. You, who claim to be so wise, do you not know? ‘Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?’ God is a righteous God, and his kingdom is a kingdom of righteousness. For God’s kingdom to be a righteous kingdom, no one who is unrighteous can be admitted.

Do Not Be Deceived

Paul again warns his readers not to be deceived, not to be led astray from the straight path. There is a danger here of being misled. There is a deceptive danger to think that because God is gracious and compassionate and slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness, then we can continue to willfully embrace a lifestyle of open rebellion toward him and expect him to put up with it. Paul warns us that we must not be deceived. The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God.

He expands his list of behaviors and attitudes from chapter 5 that are incompatible with those who have experienced the new birth.

Sexual immorality is incompatible with genuine Christianity. Sexual addiction, pornography, any kind of sexual intimacy with anyone outside of a monogamous marriage relationship is out of step with the gospel.

Idolatry is unacceptable among those who claim to follow Jesus. Allowing anything or anyone to be more significant to you than God is idolatry. Sports heroes or celebrities or video games or pastimes or recreation or work or money or husband or wife or children or anything that consumes more of your energy and attention and affection than God may be an idol, and bowing to any other god is incompatible with the gospel.

Adultery, dishonoring the marriage covenant, being unfaithful to one’s vows before God, is not to be tolerated among those who have been made part of the church, the bride of Christ. Covenant unfaithfulness is incompatible with the people of God.

Homosexuality is not an alternative for those who belong to Christ. Paul uses two distinct words here, referring to the active and passive partners in a homosexual relationship, which are together translated ‘men who practice homosexuality’ in our version. Same-sex intimacy is contrary to nature according to Romans 1, and is contrary to the gospel.

Thieves, those who take what does not belong to them, even if they use the legal system to do it, should not expect a part in the kingdom of God.

Greedy, those who are eager for gain, those who hold on to things and want more and more and more, do not show evidence that God is all-satisfying.

Drunkards, those who come under the control or influence of any substance are not being controlled by the Holy Spirit.

Revilers, those who are abusive, mistreating others with word or deed. These are not transformed by the word of God.

Swindlers, extortioners, those who by force or cunning would defraud or scam others.

Do not be deceived, those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

This is not a checklist of bad things to avoid in order to pass the test and enter heaven. Rather, these behaviors and attitudes are evidence of a heart that has not been transformed by the grace of God. Those who persist in sexual immorality, idolatry, adultery, homosexuality, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers, swindlers, they will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Inheriting the Kingdom

Note that Paul does not say ‘they will not earn the kingdom. Twice he uses this word ‘inherit’. An inheritance is something that happens to sons. An inheritance cannot be earned. An inheritance is given. It is what comes to those who are in the family. And within a family, there are family resemblances. A son begins to act like his father.

And Such Were Some of You!

1 Corinthians 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Now we get to the good news in this passage. ‘And such were some of you!’ There is hope for the idolater. There is hope for the drunk, for the alcoholic, for the substance abuser. There is hope for the sexually immoral, for the adulterer, for the one who struggles with porn or homosexuality. There is hope for the thief, for the greedy, for the con artist, for the liar, for the cheat. There is hope for the abusive. There is hope for the unrighteous, and we all were unrighteous. But note the past tense. ‘Such were some of you’. That is what we once were. But those things define us no longer. We are those things no more. The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. But Jesus did not come to call righteous people. He came to call sinners (Mk.2:17). Sinners like you. Sinners like me.

The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. But in Christ Jesus, we are unrighteous no longer. We have been clothed in the perfect righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ, we have been adopted into his family, we have been made new.

But You Were Washed

We were washed. Jesus said:

Matthew 23:25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Jesus’ primary concern is the heart. When the heart of a sinner is transformed, it will naturally produce good fruit. We were filthy. We were all the things that are abhorrent to God. But in Jesus, we are cleansed thoroughly, inside and out. 1 John says:

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

We have this picture of the saints in Revelation:

Revelation 7:14 … They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Listen to this prophesy in Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 36:25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

We have been thoroughly cleansed, made new, given a new heart and the Holy Spirit.

Paul in Romans views this cleansing through the lens of baptism:

Romans 6:3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. … 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

Our old self was crucified with Christ and we have been raised to a new kind of life. We were washed.

You Were Sanctified

We were sanctified. Set apart. Made holy. Paul was sent by Jesus to the Gentiles

Acts 26:18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

Jesus prayed for his followers:

John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

Paul prayed:

1 Thessalonians 5:23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

You Were Justified

We were justified. Acquitted. Declared not guilty. Pronounced righteous. Jesus told the story of the two who went to the temple to pray. He says:

Luke 18:13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The one who admitted his sin and cried out to God for mercy was justified by God.

Romans tells us:

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Romans 4:4 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 believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,

Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

When we believe in Jesus, we are counted righteous in Christ. We are set apart. We are washed clean.

In The Name

We are washed, sanctified, justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. All these things happen to us based on the reputation and character of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us. The triune God, Father, Son and Spirit is at work to take a sinner and transform him into a saint, qualified to inherit the kingdom of God. You may be sexually immoral, an idolater, an adulterer, a homosexual, a thief, greedy, drunk, slanderous, swindling, but God can transform your heart and make you new. You can be washed, sanctified, justified, made righteous in his sight. Cry out to him for mercy and he will rescue you. 

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

October 6, 2013 Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 30:17-21; Furniture in God’s Tent – The Bronze Washbasin

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20120520_exodus30_17-21.mp3

05/20 Exodus 30:17-21 Furniture in God’s Tent: The Bronze Washbasin (38:8; 40:30-32)

We have been studying this section of Exodus where God describes how he, a holy God, will dwell with his sinful people. He described his throne room, where he would rule his people from over his covenant; and outside his throne room, his table, always full, his lampstand, always lit, and his incense, always fragrant; then in the courtyard, his grill, always burning, and now, finally, his washbasin.

Exodus 30:17 The LORD said to Moses, 18 “You shall also make a basin of bronze, with its stand of bronze, for washing. You shall put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it, 19 with which Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet. 20 When they go into the tent of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn a food offering to the LORD, they shall wash with water, so that they may not die. 21 They shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they may not die. It shall be a statute forever to them, even to him and to his offspring throughout their generations.”

And in chapter 40, we see this basin put in place.

Exodus 40:30 He set the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it for washing, 31 with which Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet. 32 When they went into the tent of meeting, and when they approached the altar, they washed, as the LORD commanded Moses.

What was this basin for? What did it mean?

This basin was a reservoir designed to hold water. It was to be used for washing. Whenever they enter God’s tent, or approach God’s grill, they are to wash. This would serve a very practical function. Remember, the whole foundation of our ability to approach a holy God was the blood sacrifice of a substitute. Animals were slaughtered, blood was collected and applied, meat was butchered, prepared, and grilled. This was a messy, bloody process. The need for frequent washing is obvious. Of course, the whole point of sacrifice was the death of an innocent substitute in place of the guilty sinner to pay the price for sin; it all pointed to Jesus, the once-for-all final substitutionary sacrifice who takes away our sins.

Washing for Purification

When we think of washing, we think primarily of cleanliness and sanitation for health reasons. We wan to kill germs and prevent the spread of bacteria. That is indeed part of it. Especially in Leviticus, we see this idea of washing for purification and cleansing from various causes of uncleanness. We see that God’s laws were designed for the good of his people, for the health of his people, often in very practical ways. Proverbs picks up this idea of washing for cleanliness and takes it as a metaphor for moral and spiritual health.

Proverbs 30:12 There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth.

How often have you had a big dirty smudge on your face and you didn’t even know it? Our own opinion of ourselves is often quite far from the truth. You can have sterilized hands but a wicked heart.

Isaiah begins his book by looking past the physical rituals in the temple to the spiritual realities that they are designed to illustrate.

Isaiah 1:11 “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. 12 “When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? 13 Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. … 15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. 16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, 17 learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.

God is saying that the hands of his people are full of blood and need to be washed – not literal blood of animals, but the guilt of evil deeds, the neglect of justice, the oppression of society’s weak.

When Jesus was challenged by the Pharisees over the issue of ceremonial washing, he taught that:

Matthew 15:18 …what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

Jesus, like Isaiah, pointed to the root of uncleanness, not physical but spiritual, not unwashed hands but wicked hearts, evil thoughts, destructive words.

Washing hands and feet is a picture that points us to our deeper need for cleansing our guilt before God. This is what Pilate was attempting to do when he turned Jesus over to be crucified; what he did was not just. He felt guilt.

Matthew 27:24 … he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.”

Proper Hospitality

But cleansing was not the only purpose for washing. To understand this more fully, we need to think back several thousand years and try to understand a little about the culture of the middle east. There was a very important social aspect to washing. The primary mode of transportation was foot travel. Roads were dusty. People wore sandals. Washing feet was part of Abraham’s hospitality in Genesis 18.

Genesis 18:3 and said, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant.4 Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, 5 while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on–since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.”

If you’ve ever been on a long hike, you know how refreshing it is to dip your sore feet in some cool water. Even in many homes today, guests are expected to take their shoes off at the door before coming in. Washing feet would be an invitation into the home to relax and enjoy fellowship. Failure to provide a guest with water for washing would be a deep insult, equivalent to saying ‘you stay outside; you are not welcome in my home’. When Simon the Pharisee invited Jesus to his house to eat, that is exactly what he did. He offered no water for washing. This social insult is the background for Jesus’ teaching that he who is forgiven much loves much.

Luke 7:36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. …

Simon is appalled that Jesus would allow this woman to touch him, because she had quite a reputation in the city. Jesus responds:

Luke 7:44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven–for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

Jesus accepts the hospitality of a repentant sinner. God , by providing a basin in the courtyard of his tent for washing was extending hospitality, inviting the priests to refresh themselves, to come in to his presence and enjoy fellowship with him.

Jesus Washes Feet

Washing feet was not a pleasant duty. It often fell to the lowest of servants. There was another occasion when Jesus sat down to eat and no one had extended the hospitality of foot washing. It was his final meal with his own disciples. A common topic of discussion with them was which one of them was the greatest (Mt.18:1; 20:21; 23:11; Mk.9:34; 10:37; Lk.9:46; Lk.22:24-28). Apparently, not one of them was willing to stoop to perform the unpleasant and menial task of footwashing.

John 13:3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

There is stunned, awkward silence, until he gets to Peter.

John 13:6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

Peter apparently thinks this is a test. First, he refuses to allow Jesus to wash his feet, to which Jesus responds that washing is a prerequisite to fellowship with him. Peter then responds that he would like a full bath. Jesus points to the fact that he is completely clean, except for his soiled feet.

Justified – Sanctified – Glorified

This is very instructive for us. Jesus is drawing a distinction between the once-for-all cleansing that does not need to be repeated and the regular need for cleansing due to interaction with the world. It is the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from all sin (1Jn.1:7). The robes of the saints are washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb (Rev.7:14). This never needs to be repeated. But our feet become soiled from walking in this world. We need to be regularly washed with water. There is a distinction in the tenses of salvation. I have been saved; I am being saved; and I will be saved. The bible uses all these tenses; the past, present and future to describe salvation. The past tense looks at justification – ‘since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Rom.5:1). That is the past once-for-all completed never to be repeated or revoked declared not guilty never to be on trial again salvation. Then there is the process of being saved; the day to day continual battle with sin called the process of sanctification. Finally there is the future final salvation, by which we will be transformed to be like Jesus when we see him face to face. That is our future glorification. Justification, sanctification, and glorification; past, present and future salvation.

Means of Sanctification – The Word

This hand and foot washing is the washing of sanctification. In Ephesians 5, in the teaching on marriage that is to be a picture of the relationship between Christ and his church, we are told:

Ephesians 5:25 … Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

‘Christ …gave himself up for her’ – that is the past once-for-all justification. ‘That he might sanctify her’ – that is the ongoing process of salvation in the daily battle with sin. ‘presenting the church to himself in splendor’ – that is the final future phase of salvation; glorification. Today we are looking at the present process of salvation, the sanctification process. Jesus is right now in the process of sanctifying his bride the church. We see in these verses the means of our cleansing: the washing of water with the word. The primary tool for our cleansing is God’s word. The water for washing that is in the basin is the word of God. Why do we preach from God’s word every Sunday, why do we sing biblical truth, why do we teach bible studies, why do we encourage daily bible reading both individually and with families, why memorize bible verses? Because it is the word of God that sanctifies.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

God’s word is potent! God’s word is powerful! God’s word has the power to penetrate past the outward actions and right into the thoughts and intentions of the heart. God’s word gets at the very root of our sin problem; our won wicked hearts. James talks about this sanctifying effect of God’s word in our lives.

James 1:19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

Danger of Not Doing

The implanted word is able to save your souls. The present process of sanctification in the life of the believer is advanced through hearing; through receiving the word of God. The ongoing salvation process is producing in us the righteousness that God requires through the regular repeated application of God’s cleansing word. But James goes on to warn us that there is a danger of deceiving ourselves.

James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. 26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

James warns that a common self-deception is that hearing is good enough. I showed up to church this week. I’ve done my bible reading for today. I’ve checked the boxes. Don’t deceive yourself! Hear, yes. Read, yes. But use it! Put God’s word into action in your life. Be a hearer and a doer. Apply the living word to your heart and let it wash and transform you. Take action! It is fascinating that James likens listening to the word with looking in a mirror. Do you know what the bronze basin in the tabernacle courtyard was made of?

Exodus 38:8 He made the basin of bronze and its stand of bronze, from the mirrors of the ministering women who ministered in the entrance of the tent of meeting.

The high quality polished brass that the women used for mirrors was the material that was used to cast the bronze basin for washing. No longer look at your natural face in a physical mirror, but look into the soul-reflecting mirror of God’s word. But don’t look only. Do something about it! When you look in a mirror and see you have grime on your face, don’t walk away and forget about it. Wash it off! When you look into the perfect law of liberty that tells the truth about the condition of your heart, don’t walk away without applying his cleansing word to your heart. When you see that your desires are in bondage to sin, apply the gospel truth of Christ’s victory at the cross and walk in the freedom he purchased for you.

Grace and Response

We tend to emphasize the grace of God to the exclusion of our necessary response. We rightly focus on the finished work of Jesus for us, but we wrongly neglect the gospel truth that his finished work is the foundation and basis for our response. The bible is clear that our works contribute nothing to the finished work of Christ. The bible is also full of commands for action.

1Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Philippians 2:12 …work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Passionately pursue holiness, because God is at work in you to sanctify you. The foundation must be in place. The foundation is Jesus’ totally complete, finished, justifying work on the cross as your substitute. Without depending on that completely, relying, trusting, believing, you have no foundation and no hope. But once this foundation of faith is in place, the appropriate response must follow. Having been justified as a gift by grace, having the promise that you will be finally glorified, knowing that God is presently at work in you by his Spirit and through his word, pour strong effort and energy into your sanctification. Take Colossians as an example. Verse 5 begins with ‘therefore’, pointing back to the foundational finished work of Christ.

Colossians 3:5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. … 12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

Read and apply the truth of God’s word to your own heart condition. ‘Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another.’

Remember what Jesus said when he finished washing his disciples’ feet?

John 13:12 …“Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. … 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

As you apply God’s truth to your own heart and life, then carefully, lovingly, with genuine care and concern, with all humility and with much prayer, serve one another by applying the cleansing water of God’s word to wash away the daily dirt that we accumulate from our interaction with the world. And remember,

James 1:19 …my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger…

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

May 20, 2012 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment