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Leviticus 25:23-38; Jubilee – Redemption of the Land

04/02 Leviticus 25:23-38; Jubilee; Redemption of Land; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20170402_leviticus-25_23-38.mp3

The chapter divides into three sections, each concluding with the phrase “I am YHWH your God.”

The first section of Leviticus 25 extends the calendar begun in chapter 23 and deals with the Sabbath year and the year of jubilee. Every seventh day, people and animals were to rest from their labors. There were certain holy times each year that were set apart for specific purposes, days in which no work was to be done, days of rest and worship. Every seventh year, the land was to keep a Sabbath rest. This was the Sabbath year. After seven weeks of years, after 49 years, the fiftieth year was a year of Jubilee. Liberty was proclaimed and a return to property and to families. Rest was required. God’s provision was promised. There was a warning not to wrong a neighbor. The focus of the first section is the cycle of work and rest, even rest for the land, and the promise of God’s provision.

The second section, verses 23-38, begins with God’s claim that the land belongs to him, and concludes with “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.” The focus of this section is land, its sale and redemption or release in the year of Jubilee.

Verses 39-55 address the situation where a person would sell himself to pay off a debt. In verse 42, God asserts his ownership over the people whom he brought out of the land of Egypt be his servants. This section concludes with “For it is to me that the people of Israel are servants. They are my servants whom I brought out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.” The focus of the final section is God’s people, their sale, and their redemption or release in the year of Jubilee.

1-22 rest for land; Sabbath year and Jubilee

23-38 redemption or release of land

39-55 redemption or release of people

Our focus today will be the second section of this chapter.

God Owns the Land

God begins in verse 23 with his assertion of ownership over the land.

Leviticus 25:23 “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine. For you are strangers and sojourners with me.

This sets the parameters for the discussion of land ownership and sale and release. This speaks to the rest for the land every seventh year and every fiftieth year. God’s people would be tempted to argue ‘but I can’t stop working the land for a whole year! How could we survive?’ When we are entrusted with something, especially if it is for a long time, we begin to feel like we own it. We have had access to it for so long that we begin to think of it as belonging to us. God reminds his people ‘the land is mine.’ The land does not belong to you. I can tell you what you can and can’t do with the land, because the land belongs to me.

Tenant farming was a typical arrangement in the ancient world. We see this under Joseph in Egypt. The severity of the famine forced the Egyptians to sell their land to the Pharaoh in order to survive.

Genesis 47:18 …“We will not hide from my lord that our money is all spent. The herds of livestock are my lord’s. There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our land. 19 Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we with our land will be servants to Pharaoh. And give us seed that we may live and not die, and that the land may not be desolate.” 20 So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh, for all the Egyptians sold their fields, because the famine was severe on them. The land became Pharaoh’s. 21 As for the people, he made servants of them from one end of Egypt to the other. …23 Then Joseph said to the people, “Behold, I have this day bought you and your land for Pharaoh. Now here is seed for you, and you shall sow the land. 24 And at the harvests you shall give a fifth to Pharaoh, and four fifths shall be your own, as seed for the field and as food for yourselves and your households, and as food for your little ones.” 25 And they said, “You have saved our lives; may it please my lord, we will be servants to Pharaoh.”

So all the land in Egypt was owned by the Pharaoh, but he allowed the people to live on it and work his land in exchange for 20 percent of the produce.

Several of Jesus’ parables used the illustration of stewardship; money or a vineyard was entrusted to someone’s care, and at some point the owner returned and expected his portion of the harvest or a return on his investment.

God reminds his people “the land is mine.” I’m allowing you to squat on my land, to live on it, to farm it, to use it. But don’t forget, it belongs to me. “You are strangers and sojourners with me.” In Leviticus we have heard a lot about the strangers and sojourners in the land. This typically refers to non-Israelites, foreigners. Here God reminds his people, Israel ‘you are aliens, strangers in a land not belonging to you. It is my land. I am the King, the great landlord. I set the terms of your occupation and your tenancy. As the landowner, he reserves the right to evict any tenants who refuse to follow his rules. He has done this before. In Leviticus chapters 18 and 20, where God lays out the code of conduct he requires of his people, he reminds them

Leviticus 20:22 “You shall therefore keep all my statutes and all my rules and do them, that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out. 23 And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation that I am driving out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I detested them. 24 But I have said to you, ‘You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey.’ I am the LORD your God, who has separated you from the peoples.

God is the landowner, and he is evicting the former tenants after excessively generous notification. But this is a warning to his own people. If they refuse to follow his rules, they too will be evicted. God’s people are always to keep in mind that they are sojourners and strangers living on God’s land.

As such, “the land shall not be sold in perpetuity.” God’s people living in God’s land are allowed to sub-lease the land to others. But no sales are final, because the land belongs to God. In the first section, introducing the year of Jubilee, God clarified that what is being sold is not the land itself, but the number of harvests until the year of Jubilee, when the land would return to the ones God allotted it to.

Redemption and the Kinsman Redeemer

Leviticus 25:24 And in all the country you possess, you shall allow a redemption of the land. 25 “If your brother becomes poor and sells part of his property, then his nearest redeemer shall come and redeem what his brother has sold.

Here we are introduced to the idea of redemption. This noun shows up 9 times in this chapter, twice in Ruth 4, twice in Jeremiah 32, and once in Ezekiel. Leviticus 25 is key to understanding what redemption means. The verb form shows up 10 times in this chapter, and 12 times in Leviticus 27, a handful of times scattered through the rest of the Pentateuch and the other historical books; 21 times in Ruth, twice in Job, 10 times in Psalms, once in Proverbs, 24 times in Isaiah (x24); and several other occurrences in the prophets. The noun is gullah (gheh-ool-law’), from the verb ga’al (gaw-al’), kinsman redeemer. The same verb is translated ‘avenger’ in the phrase ‘avenger of blood’ about 12 times in Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, and 2 Samuel. As we learn from Leviticus and from Ruth, the kinsman redeemer was a near relative who had the ability to right what was wrong in the family. If a brother was in financial trouble, his nearest redeemer had the responsibility to keep the land in the family. In the next section we will see a brother who sells himself into slavery can be redeemed by his kinsman redeemer. In Numbers, Deuteronomy and Joshua, the kinsman redeemer had the responsibility to defend the rights of his kin and avenge his murder. In the poetic and prophetic books, God is the kinsman redeemer of his people. This is the foundation for the concept of the redemption we have in Jesus in the New Testament.

Leviticus 25:26 If a man has no one to redeem it and then himself becomes prosperous and finds sufficient means to redeem it, 27 let him calculate the years since he sold it and pay back the balance to the man to whom he sold it, and then return to his property. 28 But if he does not have sufficient means to recover it, then what he sold shall remain in the hand of the buyer until the year of jubilee. In the jubilee it shall be released, and he shall return to his property.

The one who sells his own land may redeem it himself if he becomes financially able. This would be highly unlikely, apart from receiving an inheritance. The redemption price is to be a fair price, the price for which the land was sold, less the amount of harvests that have benefited the buyer after the sale. So if there was 30 years until the Jubilee, and the land could generate 1,000 a year, it would be sold for 30,000. If ten years into the contract, a kinsman redeemer came forward to redeem the land, he would pay 20,000, in effect refunding the value of the 20 remaining years. The buyer should have gotten his 10,000 out of the land in the first ten years of his lease.

If there is no one able to redeem the land, it must remain in the possession of the buyer until the Jubilee. In the year of Jubilee, the land reverts to the one God had entrusted it to.

Exceptions

There are some exceptions to these general rules of redemption and release covered in the rest of this section.

Leviticus 25:29 “If a man sells a dwelling house in a walled city, he may redeem it within a year of its sale. For a full year he shall have the right of redemption. 30 If it is not redeemed within a full year, then the house in the walled city shall belong in perpetuity to the buyer, throughout his generations; it shall not be released in the jubilee. 31 But the houses of the villages that have no wall around them shall be classified with the fields of the land. They may be redeemed, and they shall be released in the jubilee.

Houses in walled cities were an exception to the rule. The seller retained the right to redeem it for one year, after which it became the permanent possession of the buyer. Houses in unwalled villages were counted as land, and were subject to the same redemption and release in the Jubilee.

Then there is an exception to the exception.

Leviticus 25:32 As for the cities of the Levites, the Levites may redeem at any time the houses in the cities they possess. 33 And if one of the Levites exercises his right of redemption, then the house that was sold in a city they possess shall be released in the jubilee. For the houses in the cities of the Levites are their possession among the people of Israel. 34 But the fields of pastureland belonging to their cities may not be sold, for that is their possession forever.

The Levites, remember, were not given any land inheritance, only cities scattered within the other tribes of Israel; cities of refuge. Dwellings given to the Levites in these cities could always be redeemed, and they would be released back to them in the Jubilee.

Hospitality to a Brother

Verses 35-38 conclude this section with an exhortation to take care of your brother, and a warning to fear God.

Leviticus 25:35 “If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. 36 Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you. 37 You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit. 38 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.

Leviticus 19 told us to love your neighbor as yourself, and to love the stranger as yourself. But we may not feel that this extends to a near relative. We know them. They knew better. ‘I’m willing to help my neighbor, and the guy I don’t know, but my brother, well, he got himself into this mess. I warned him and he didn’t listen. He needs to learn his lesson. I’m not going to bail him out; he’ll just do it again.’ God says, don’t harden your heart to your relative. Treat him at least as well as you would treat a stranger. Take him in. Help him out. Help him get back on his feet. Show hospitality. Don’t enable him, but don’t take advantage of his vulnerable situation either. We see a similar warning to what we saw in the first section of this chapter.

Redemption is to be a blessing to those in need. Don’t turn the blessing into a curse. Don’t hold it over his head. Don’t take interest from him. Don’t capitalize on his misfortune. Genuinely seek to help him get back on his feet. Do for him what you would want him to do for you if it was you who fell on hard times. Do not take advantage of him, but fear God. You were slaves in Egypt. God brought you out and gave you the land. The land you possess is a gift from God. Give a gift to your brother in need.

Application

How do we apply a passage like this? We must remember, this was written to Israel after God rescued them from Egypt and was preparing them to enter Canaan. The land promises were a big deal. But we are not Israel, this is not Canaan, we don’t have Levites or walled cities, our property was not apportioned by God, and we don’t release property back to its original owner in the year of Jubilee.

Care for your Brothers

But we can draw some principles that do apply to us today. We are not under the kinsman redeemer laws, but it is right to look out for our relatives.

1 Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

1 John asks:

1 John 3:17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Acknowledged God’s Sovereignty

We may not be in the promised land, but we should recognize God’s absolute ownership and right over all that he has made. Psalm 24, quoted in 1 Corinthians 10, says:

Psalm 24:1 The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,

God is the Creator of all that is. He made it and he can do with it what he pleases. He retains the authority to make the rules and enforce them. Everything belongs to him and it exists to please him.

We need to be reminded that we have been entrusted with a stewardship, and that we will be called to account for what we have done with what we have been given. We are sojourners and strangers in a land that belongs to another.

1 Peter 2:11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Look to the Redeemer

Most importantly, we understand from this passage a little more clearly what redemption is all about. It was the responsibility of a near relative to redeem the one in trouble. Jesus,

Philippians 2:6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Jesus became related to us, became one of us, became human, so that he could be our Kinsman Redeemer. Hebrews says:

Hebrews 2:17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

He had to be made like his brothers, so that he could redeem us as brothers. Isaiah even goes so far as to say:

Isaiah 54:5 For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.

Our Creator became our husband to redeem us. Jesus is our Redeemer, our near kinsman, the one who comes to our rescue when we are poor and desperate and beyond all hope. Jesus is our rescue when all other hope is lost.

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

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April 4, 2017 Posted by | Leviticus, 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

1 Peter 4:7-9; The End is Near!

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20090524_1peter4_7-9.mp3

05/24 1 Peter 4:7-9 The End is Near: Prayer,Love, and Hospitality

4:7 pantwn de to telov hggiken swfronhsate oun kai nhqate eiv proseucav 8 pro pantwn thn eiv eautouv agaphn ektenh econtev oti agaph kaluptei plhyov amartiwn

-Intro:

Peter is writing to believers in Asia Minor who were undergoing persecution and suffering, or would soon be suffering for the the sake of Jesus. Because of their relationship with Jesus, they had become strangers, outsiders in their own communities. Peter gives clear direction that when suffering comes, and it will come (we have been called to suffer – 2:21), this is how we must respond; we are to follow the example of Jesus. Jesus did not suffer for any wrong that he had committed, so we must not bring suffering on ourselves by sinful action. While suffering, Jesus continued entrusting everything to his Father who judges justly. Jesus suffered for the good of others – ultimately in order to bring us to God. In Jesus’ suffering, he won the decisive victory over sin. Since he suffered in the flesh and conquered sin once for all, our battle with sin is a battle against a defeated foe. When suffering comes our way, we might be tempted to use it as an excuse for sin – we think we have a legitimate reason to indulge ourself because life is hard. Instead, we can fight against sin by arming ourselves with the attitude of Jesus toward suffering – we can resolve to face the suffering that comes to us knowing that it is the will of our loving Father and it is for our good. We know that it is temporary and will soon be replaced by inexpressible joy. For Jesus, and for us, suffering is the pathway to victory. We can be done with sin and instead passionately pursue the will of God. Jesus now is seated at the right hand of his Father, with angels, authorities and powers having been subjected to him. He now stands ready to judge the living and the dead. Everyone will give account to him, and those who have suffered for him will be richly rewarded. It is infinitely worth it to suffer in the service of Jesus. This thought of this final judgment leads Peter to give instruction in light of the end:

4:7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self–controlled and sober–minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies––in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Peter’s instructions are somewhat unexpected. The world is coming to an end! You are about to stand before your Maker! The Judge is ready! The end is near! I would anticipate …Doom and gloom. Fire and brimstone. Flee. Repent. Sell everything and look up in the sky. or Hurry and do something crazy to get everyone’s attention and tell them about Jesus before it’s too late.

He’s got a shaggy beard and unkempt hair and he just put on his sandwich board sign that says ‘the end of all things is at hand’ and he steps out into the busy street and this is what he says: “Be self controlled. Be sober minded. Pray. Love each other. Show hospitality. Make use of your God-given gifts for the glory of God.” That’s not what I would have expected. I would expect something more radical, more urgent than ‘keep your head so you can pray and love each other’. But that’s exactly what he says. Let’s look at what he says and why.

First, his statement ‘the end of all things is at hand’. The word ‘end’ indicates the goal or consummation. The goal of everything is near. Peter wrote these words some 2000 years ago. Was he wrong? What did he mean? This is the same word that both John the Baptist and Jesus used about the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 3:2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

The same word is used in Luke 22:47 of Judas, who was near enough to kiss Jesus.

Luke 22:47 While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him,

The point is that there is time for action, but there is no time to waste. Peter said that he ‘is ready to judge’. James says it this way:

James 5:8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.

Jesus made it clear that although no date could be set, the disciples were to be always ready for his return:

Matthew 24:42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. …44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Jesus promised to come quickly and he has not come back yet. Is that a problem for us? It was already for the early church, and Peter addressed this question in his second letter:

2Peter 3:4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? … 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Jesus is at the very door, ready to burst in at any moment. The fact that he has not yet is sheer undeserved mercy. Every moment he waits is another opportunity for repentance. Never in the bible is the end mentioned merely to satisfy our curiosity. It is always mentioned as a motivation for action and right living.

Because the consummation of all things is right around the corner, this is how you should live: He mentions four things: (1) prayer and the necessary mental attitude for prayer, (2) love toward one another, (3) hospitality, and (4) the use of our gifts for serving one another for the glory of God. We’ll look at the first three and save the last for next time.

First, because of the nearness of the end, he tells us to ‘be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers’. Our inclination in light of the soon return of Christ would be to lose our heads and act irrationally. Instead, we are to be sensible and alert. Peter has already told us to be sober-minded:

1:13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober–minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Here he focuses our sober-minded self-controlled attention on the duty of prayer. We are to enhance our effectiveness in our prayers by clear thinking about the end. We should not be surprised or irrational in our praying, but rather enlightened by reality as seen from God’s perspective, calling on and submitting to his authority. We must recognize that the time is short and implore God to act in the time that still remains. Realizing that God is in control of these last few moments of history should cause us to focus our attention on him and lean on him more. We should be constantly looking to him for power and guidance to make our last moments here count. “It is only through clear communication with headquarters that a soldier can effectively stand guard” (Davids, p.157). We must stay connected with God and there are some things that we can practically do to maintain an effective prayer life; namely being self-controlled and sober-minded.

Next, and Peter says ‘above all, keep loving one another earnestly’. Second only to love for God, is the importance of loving his people. John tells us that this is the main evidence of our love for him.

1 John 5:1 … everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.

Because of the nearness of the end, and the difficulties that will bring, we are reminded to keep on loving one another earnestly. When we face suffering, it is natural to turn our focus inward. My problems are big. Someone needs to help me and alleviate my suffering. Peter turns our focus outward. Even when you are suffering; especially when you are suffering, you need to care for the needs of others. In the middle of your trial, you need to know that because of what God has given you, you have something to give to those around you. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly. This is almost the same as what he said in:

1Peter 1:22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,

The word ‘earnestly’ indicates stretching out to full capacity, like a horse at full gallop. Our love must be constant and enduring, not slacking off. Jesus predicted that in the end times, love would suffer:

Matthew 24:10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Peter’s reason for our persistent intensity of love for one another is that love covers sins. Peter’s idea comes from:

Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.

The idea is not that we justify our sins or ignore each others faults. We are to ‘stir up one another to love and good works’ (Heb.10:24) and to ‘reprove, rebuke, and exhort’ (2Tim.4:2) with all authority (Titus2:15). Jesus himself taught:

Luke 17:3 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, …

But he goes on:

…and if he repents, forgive him, 4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

Love does not excuse or overlook sin, but love does not seek to destroy because of sin. We all know the difference between someone who has been watching us hoping that we would stumble and they are eager to kick us while we are down and wring every drop of juicy satisfaction out of our failure that they can, drag our name through the mud and put our sin on public display; and those that genuinely care for us and although they confront us about our sin, it is privately and for our own good, with the purpose of restoring us to fellowship both with God and with them. If we are truly in the last days as Peter says, we have a common enemy. We don’t need to be seeking occasion to destroy one another. Instead we should cover each other and care for each other with love – as we would like to be treated. Love is eager to forgive and will overlook the faults of others in the church so that together we can stand against the schemes of the devil (Eph6:11). In the face of persecution, this is an essential attitude of the community of faith. Above all, keep on loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

Peter goes on: ‘Show hospitality to one another without grumbling‘. Hospitality literally is being a friend to a stranger. It typically implied offering food and lodging. In a situation where people can barely meet their own needs, hospitality is a costly act of love. The word is plural – referring to repeated acts of hospitality. The early church did not often have public facilities available to them for meeting, so hospitality would be put to the test as the church would meet regularly in someone’s home. The persecuted church would also put hospitality to the test as Christians fleeing persecution would be in great need, but would also bring the threat of danger to the family who gave them shelter. Peter not only commands hospitality, but specifies the attitude that is to go along with it. Hospitality is to be cheerful, joyful hospitality. It is not to be grumbling hospitality.

2Corinthians 9:7 Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Because the time is short and the days are urgent, we are to extend practical love and hospitality with generosity to our brothers and sisters in need. We are to earnestly love and be eager to forgive. We are to think clearly in order to pray more appropriately and effectively. And we are to use our various gifts to serve one another in order to bring glory to God.

4:7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self–controlled and sober–minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies––in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

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

May 26, 2009 Posted by | 1 Peter, podcast | , , , | 1 Comment