The Table of the Lord notes

 

I recently made a video that traces the communion table from Genesis through Revelation, expressing the common theme behind it. It also looks at the table of demons, which instead of feasting upon Christ we feast upon our brethren. If you’re interested, check out the video, and here are the notes that go along with it:

Malachi 1:7, Ezekiel 41:22, 44:16
-Here in the prophets the altar is called “The table of hte LORD”.

Leviticus 21:6
-Here God calls the offerings “the food of God”
+This idea of food being provided by God comes up over and over again throughout the Bible.

Genesis 1:29
-God gave every herb and tree for food – specifically anything bearing seed.
+There is an eternal provision, just like we previously learned of the eternal tabernacle. This “food” here is again made very apparent in other key places.

Genesis 4
-If the altar = Table of the Lord and food of God, let us consider the first sacrifice recorded in Scripture.
-Cain brought from the cursed ground, by the sweat of his brow (Gen 3:17)
-Abel brought of the flock, which God had multiplied and blessed
+Abel brought from rest. It is in the wisdom and eternal pattern of God to bring a firstborn yearling lamb, for “God will provide tha lamb”, and even the meekness portrays God’s character.

Ezekiel 34:1-10, Micah 3:1-3, Zechariah 11:15-17, Jeremiah 10:25, Psalm 14:4
-Over and over again there are these people working by their own toil, according to their own knowledge. Just like with Cain, the result is to slay their brethren.
+God provided good food, and said to eat of every tree, but this one tree – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – do not eat. Don’t take in the food of your own toil and knowledge, leaving rest as you do so. There is no seed in that – only death.

Leviticus 6:26, Deuteronomy 18:2-3, Numbers 18:11-12
-The sacrifice was not intended to be “feeding God”, but rather as the allotment for the priests and Levites. In offering the sacrifice, you feed your brethren and give them provision.
+Malachi 1:7-14 – In bringing bad sacrifices, the people aren’t providing for their brethren. In this, they again show the mindset of the bad shepherds who feast themselves, while others go hungry.
-1 Corinthians 11:21-22 – Paul rebukes Corinth for this very thing.

Jacob and Esau
-Esau despised his birthright, even the blessing of all nation, and sold it for lentils.
-Jacob, perceiving the provision for many nations, inherited the birthright and blessing, while Esau sought it with many tears.
+Just like Cain, the response to his brother’s righteousness was murder (1 John 3:10-12)

Joseph and his brothers
-God gives Joseph dreams, which he then shares. There is a certain favor upon Joseph from his father.
+Just like God favored Abel’s offering, bringing what God blessed.
-Joseph’s brothers despised their brother because of his dreams and favor, and just like Cain they desired to kill their brother.

David and Eliab
-David brings bread to his brothers and cheese to the commanders, so they might look with favor upon the sons of Jesse.
+Just like the sacrifice is provision for priests and Levites
-Eliab, David’s oldest brother, shows hostility and accusation against David, even after witnessing him be chosen of God, and anointed, filled with the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 10:14-22
-The context before this is Israel being fed and provided for in the wilderness, and yet they served idols, committed sexual immorality, and tested God.
+Though they ate of the bread and cup, they showed in their actions which table they feast from.
-Manna from heaven was given – the bread of life
+Jesus is the bread from heaven (John 6)
-Drank from the spiritual rock
+1 Corinthians 10:4 – Jesus was the rock, water representing His blood (Jn 19:34, 1 Cor 10:16)
-In all these things, they partook of Christ as we. For them it was a tqable prepared in the wilderness (Ps 78:19-20), sacrifices offered upon an altar. For us, we see Jesus our high priest (Heb 3:1) offering Himself upon the heavenly altar (Heb 9:24).
-Do we not partake of one bread? Are we not that broken Body, divided of Jew and Gentile? Yet, we are divided, some feasting from the communion God provides, laying our lives down as living sacrifices (Rom 12:1), an offering of the Gentiles made holy by the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:16). Others take of the table of demons, despising their brethren, and biting and devouring one another (Gal 5:15), whether their brethren be Jews or Christians.
+You cannot eat of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. They who minister at an altar with sacrifices have no right to eat of the table we eat upon (Heb 13:10). They are within a system built on the wisdom of the principalities and powers. Though they minister at “God’s House”, they are not in Zion, the eternal City, whose builder and maker is God. So let us join Jesus, who suffered outside the gate, and leave the camp to find His provision in the wilderness.

Table in the Wilderness
-There are many end time passages that speak of God preparing a table in the wilderness. These are passages that hint at an end time “exodus”.
-Ezekiel 20:33-35
+Hosea 2:14-15, Amos 9:8-10, Micah 7:13-15, Revelation 12:6, 14
-Deuteronomy 30:1-6
+Deuteronomy 32:20-22
-Revelation 12:6
+”They should nourish/feed for her…”
+Psalm 102:13-14, Luke 12:42, Matthew 24:45

Matthew 25:31-46 – The Least of These My Brethren
-They are judged uppon how they treat Jesus’ brethren.
+To not act is to act. It is to repeat the sins of the wicked leaders/shepherds who save themselves at the expense of God’s flock. It is feasting upon the people of God for your own nourishment, rather than nourishing them. This shows your identification with the table of demons, for who else comes to steal, kill, and destroy?

Generation After Josiah (Parts of this section are not in the video)
-Daniel and his companions refused to eat of the defiled meat. Where did they gain the wisdom it was defiled? In eating from the Table of the Lord, they were granted wisdom and discernment.
+1 Corinthians 10:21, 1 Corinthians 6:12 – Everything is permissible, so why can’t we eat from this table? It is even more repulsive than not being beneficial. It is defiled.
-Who can bring them meat in due season? (Mat 24:45, Luke 12:42)
+Luke 15:29-30 – The youngest son in the parable of the prodigal is accused of “devouring your livelihood with harlots”. Yet, the “faithful and wise servant” in the parable brought the fatted calf for this son. He has passed from death unto life, and therefore again eats from the proper table.
+Matthew 24:45-51 – At the end of the age we will either feed others nourishment, or we will beat our fellow servants. There is no in between.
-Matthew 25:31-46 – “What did you do to the least of these my brethren?”
-Parable of prodigal, the eldest son complains because he isn’t given even a young goat. “Where’s my meat?”
+Exodus 16:2-3, “Oh that we died in Egypt, when we had meat to eat and we ate bread to the full…”
-Psalm 78:19-20, “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?”
+The eldest son complains that the younger brother “devoured with harlots”. Jerusalem/Israel is often called a harlot in the prophets.

Revelation 17 – Babylon
-Revelation 17:15-18 – The description of the judgement upon this harlot fits many Old Testament prophecies concerning Jerusalem.
+Ezekiel 16:23, 37-42, Ezekiel 23:29, Jeremiah 22:20-22, 50:41-42, Hosea 2 describing Israel as a harlot
-They who call themselves God’s people, Israel, or Jerusalem go through this chastisement. However, they who are truly God’s people shall come out refined, purified, and made white (Daniel 11:35).

Revelation 12:6 – “They provide for her…”
-The woman is Israel, fleeing in the wilderness.
+Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?
+Who is the faithful and wise servant to provide meat in due season?
-They who are like Abel, but the Cain people/false shepherds feast upon Israel, beat their fellow servants, and despise their own inheritance/roots.
-The Abel people bring an “offering” to God to provide for thise woman. 1 John 1:9, Revelation 7:14, Daniel 11:33-35, Romans 15:16 (12:1)
-Revelation 17:6 – Cain (Daniel 11:32, Isa 25:18)

Psalm 107:4-9
-Who is that wise and faithful servant who shall prepare the way, being an ambassador of that City, building the highway of holiness, so that they may say, “This isthe way, walk ye in it”?
-Psalm 102 – The Set Time to Favor Zion
+The psalm opens up to imagery of horrendous persecution. It describes an Israel in Holocaust-like scenario.
+Verses 12-14 then speak of a time that has come, a set time, where God now has mercy upon Israel. This set time to favor Zion is contingent upon one thing: God’s servants cherish Zion’s stones, and show favor to her dust.
-These servants cannot be a part of the persecuted and judged Israel, for they are bearing the mercy of God. They must then be something distinct, and yet still in God’s Household to be called “servants”.
-What does it mean to cherish her stones and show favor to her dust?
+Psalm 103:13-14
+Luke 12:42 – Who is that wise and faithful steward, whom is master will  make ruler over his avadim, to give them their okhel (food)?
-For thy avadim cherish her stones…
-Psalm 145:15 – For the servants to give food in due season is for God to give food in due season (Ezekiel 22:33-35 – I will plead)
-Genesis 42:10 – Joseph provided food for his brothers without cost (Gen 42:25-26, Isa 55:1, Rev 22:17)

Cities of Refuge
-Revelation 12:6 – A place prepared in the wilderness, for refuge
+Numbers 35:6, 1 Timothy 2:2
-We don’t wait until “one day” to be this, for the saints have always lived like this in their own generations.
+Noah prepared an ark for the saving of his household (Heb 11:7)
+Shem expressed something of God in the covering of his father’s nakedness, and therfore received the greatest blessing (Gen 9)
+Abraham believed God, and in leaving nation, family, and father’s house he became God’s nation to bless all nations.
+Melchizedek brought unto Abram bread and wine (Gen 14:18)
+Abraham slaughters the fatted calf and bakes 70 pounds of bread for three strangers (Gen 18)
+Lot takes in the two strangers and protects them under the shadow of his roof (Gen 19)
+Joseph was used to provide food to his brethren and to all nations
+The sacrifices provided for the priests and Levites
+David brought bread to his brothers and cheese to the commanders
+Ziba, the servant of Saul, brought David’s men cakes and wine to feed the faint (2 Sam 16:1-4)
+Nabal denied David’s men food, but Abigail provided lavishly (1 Sam 25)
+The widow offered two mites, all that she had, and was honored above everyone else’s offering
+Jesus tells His disciples to feed the people, even in such a solitary place (Mark 8)
+The Shunamite woman provided for Elisha a room he could always call home
-As God’s people, we are called to be that solace in the wilderness in our own generation, If we won’t do it now, then we simply never will. All these died having not received the promise. Why do we think we shall receive with much less effort, and with much less willingness?

Hebrews 13:10-16 as benediction

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Eunuchs and the Tree of Life

With the discussion of the two trees in the Garden, we’re again discussing the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. These are two different cultures at enmity with each other. Within the first two chapters of Genesis, we have the Kingdom of God expressed. In Genesis 1:16-8, we have the darkness being “ruled” over by the sun and moon. In Genesis 1:26-27, we have humanity being made in God’s image, that it might “rule”, or “have dominion”, over the creation. This ruling is described in further detail with the wording of Genesis 2.

The words of our English Bibles tell us that God God commanded the man that he would “tend and keep” the Garden. The Hebrew words denote something slightly different than what commonly comes to mind. In my mind, I always read that Adam was to “tend” the Garden, and I assumed that meant working. But God isn’t talking about work. He isn’t talking about labor. Rather, God is talking about a certain kind of building up, a certain kind of servanthood that takes into consideration what the creation needs, and then becomes that foundation that tends to the needs of the Garden. This describes nothing short of what it means to be apostolic or prophetic. Apostles and prophets are called the foundation, the very thing that holds up the building, and gets walked on without any thought or consideration.

Our word “keep” doesn’t work well anymore. It used to be that to “keep” something was to guard and cherish it, but it has now become simply possessing. For God to tell Adam to keep the Garden, He was telling Adam to cherish and guard it. This is also the word used for the commandments of God. We’re to keep the commands, which we’ve interpreted as flawlessly adhering to their demands. While it might be true that God expects we’ll live in obedience to Him, the word that he used was the same as here in the Garden. The Hebrew word shamyir means to guard, or to cherish. If you tell someone who loves God to guard His commands, they would gladly risk their lives to make sure that they do so. In fact, many of the traditions of the Jews come from this very thing. They want to guard the commands, and so they must rigorously ask the question of what exactly it means to covet, or to steal, or to bear false witness.

God’s Kingdom is expressed fully in the Garden of Eden. His rule is one of service, giving itself over to the needs of others. Indeed, just as Jesus taught, we should not be rulers in the sense of the Gentiles, who lord over one another. Rather, anyone who wants to be great must become the least, and anyone who wants to “rule” must serve. This idea of being a servant is scattered throughout the parables of Jesus. At one time He minces no words in telling us that some are made eunuchs out of their own volition, for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

To be a eunuch for the Kingdom is to strip away your own rights, your own thoughts, your own needs, and your own reputation. Eunuchs are servants who have no regard for their own households. Their only regard is for building up the house of their master. Just like the apostles wrote themselves as being “bondslaves” and “servants” of the Lord Jesus Christ, the apostle is one who fundamentally stands in adherence to the word of God. Every waking moment is a pulsation of desiring and coveting that God be served and get the glory in all things. Our life is no longer our own. “I must decrease so that He might increase.” Just as the prodigal son desired to come to the Father no longer deserving to be a son, but now coveting to be a servant, for the servants have bread and enough to spare, the apostolic man and Body does not seek their own fame and reputation, but rather seeks to train the sons in maturity and fullness, that they might become heirs.

What strikes me is that Scripture doesn’t say anything negative of the eunuchs, other than that in Leviticus they are told not to come near the altar. Every other mention, and certainly the concept of that lifetime devotion unto your master, is blatantly held in high regard. Isaiah claims that these eunuchs shall indeed come near the House of God, and shall even be given names better than sons and daughters. It is said of Elijah that he comes at the end of the age to restore the sons unto the fathers, and to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the sons. This heart is one that bleeds of that eunuch-type servanthood. It has laid down everything so that it might raise up heirs who will inherit the glorious City. As Paul said to the Corinthians, they have been prepared for one Husband.

The Elijah people are they who have given up everything of their own, they who see the Bridegroom and rejoice, preparing the Bride for but one Husband, decreasing so that He might increase, and jealously seeking to build up His house alone. For this reason, because they have no desire to build up their own name and household, they are entrusted with the secret things of God, and they are men of authority. These apostolic and prophetic men are they who God has created from the beginning. Adam was the first foundational man, expressing what it means to rule in the Kingdom of God, and was therefore the steward of the great mystery. This mystery is God revealed. Adam reflecting God outward to all creation, and bringing even the creation into fullness and maturity, that the way may be prepared for the coming of its King.

When we examine the two trees of the Garden, we must bear in mind that they are given as symbols as much as they’re real things. Yes, Adam ate a tangible fruit. Yes, there was a real and lasting death that took place. However, the two trees represent heavenly realities as well. To the tree of life we have full expression of overcoming and ruling in the Kingdom of God. To the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we have full expression of dwelling in death, choosing death moment by moment rather than life, and thus becoming the antithesis of “seek first the Kingdom of God…”

Glory in the Cross – Galatians 6:11-18

These are the concluding marks of Paul’s epistle to the Galatians. Within these few verses, we have a recap that it isn’t by the flesh that we should live, but by the Spirit. Now, we can compare this statement with other statements that Paul makes elsewhere, such by saying that his Gospel is not in word only, but in the demonstration of power. They who are compelling the Galatians to be circumcised, according to Paul, are not speaking with this power, but speaking from the flesh. It is not the flesh that profits anything, but the new creation.

For those of you who struggle, listen to Paul’s advice. I’m always amazed at how simple the language is. It’s never some exotic, or some “super-spiritual” thing that is commanded of us. All we’re called to do and be is what Christ has already made us to be. We’re “new creations”, and therefore no longer under the same bondage that we once were. I know that there is still struggle. We all have them. But, don’t let your struggle and temptation define you. You’ve been bought with a price, and with that freedom you’ve been given, do all you can to remain free.

Grace and peace in Christ. Next we’ll begin looking at the Gospel of Matthew, because I’ve been saying that we need to pay attention to the words of Jesus, but haven’t yet gone through them… Pray for me, because this is the deep end.

Share in All Things – Galatians 6:6-10

Within this passage is a mandate to all. First, let me explain a bit of what it meant to be within the first century Church. Second, we’ll look at the passage directly. Third, we’ll ask the question of how we get there.

Within Acts 2:42-47, we read that they who were added to the Church continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, having all things in common, selling their possessions and distributing as anyone had need, and spending time together daily, whether in the temple, going from house to house, or or otherwise. It was completely natural. You didn’t have to tell anyone to sell their possessions; they did it naturally. You didn’t have to tell people to live in obedience to the apostles’ teaching; they did that naturally. It was the logic of the salvation and outpouring of the Spirit that caused them to come together daily, and not merely weekly.

It is within this context, spending day after day with the other believers throughout your city, that we have a definition of Church. The Greek word (ekklesia) actually comes from the Hebrew Kahal, neither having any kind of religious connotation. It simply means an assembly, or a group of people who have gathered together. The sunagoge (synagogue) was where they met. Once again, there was absolutely nothing religiously affiliated with that word in the first century. Herod called the scholars together, and that gathering was called a sunagoge (Matt 2:4). In Hebrews 10:25, the “gathering together” is sunagoge. In 2 Thessalonians 2:1, the place where Jesus gathers His Church is called an epi-sunagoge.

From this context, let us ask again what “Church” is. Within that first century manifestation, the Church was simply the people of God. For this reason, we find that Paul writes to whole cities, and not congregations within those cities. They met together daily, and anyone who had need was provided for. How did they have so much money? They didn’t. Everyone lived within their means, living a peaceful and quiet life. They didn’t spend their money on large homes, fancy clothing, or “things”. Rather, they spent their money on one another, putting it to a greater use than themselves.

This all came down to the eschatological dimension. The end times were not something far away and outside, but were a dynamic that was lived out in daily life. There was an expectation of imminent judgment upon the House of Israel, and a knowing that the righteous should be preserved. There was a knowledge that God was progressing His people forward in an ultimate drama, and therefore every day was another chance to grow and develop, progressing with God toward that ultimate climax of the age.

When we come to Galatians 6:6, we find Paul telling the people to give to they who teach. For you who are being taught, and who are finding much growth spiritually through a certain teacher, you should do what you can to provide for their needs. In 2 Corinthians 9:6, Paul uses the idea of sowing and reaping in a similar context. But, notice that Paul doesn’t remain with providing for they who teach, but the conclusion in verse 10 is to do good to all. Given the context, it must be that Paul is speaking about physical need, and giving to those who have need.

Why is this stressed?

It is the logic of our salvation, the logic of love, to provide for one another. Simply living what we’ve received demands that we would take care of one another. And how do we even get back to such a thing? In our day and age, especially here in the West, we are enshrouded with debt, with expenses, and with financial trouble. How do we get free of this? Let me be clear: Dave Ramsey might speak about getting free from debt, but he doesn’t give the biblical answer.

From the New Testament text, it seems that the way that we get free from debt is selling everything. You have your house paid off? Invite they who don’t have their homes paid off in, and allow them to live with you until they have the necessary provision to buy a home without debt. Are you still paying on your car? Sell it and get something much less exotic. Are you struggling to pay your bills? Get rid of the cable, the Internet, the cigarettes, the Netflix, and anything else that is unnecessary, and ultimately is a waste of life and time. Jesus told the rich young ruler, “Sell your possessions, give to the poor, THEN come and follow me.” How many of us would also go away saddened, and not follow Jesus?

You want freedom? How much? You want the first century reality in your midst? How much? Are you willing to buy your brother or sister a new roof on their house because they need it? Are you willing to ding-dong ditch some groceries? Are you willing to purchase a car for the single mom who can’t afford to fix the minivan that she is currently driving at 250,000 miles? Are you willing to get to know the people around you well enough to know their needs, and know whether you can provide or not? It is a shameful testimony that you can have someone who can’t even afford to feed their child and someone who has tens of thousands of dollars in their bank account gathering at the same building for “church”.

My wife and I live at a level that is so far in poverty that we don’t even register on the chart. Yet, we don’t have debt, we pay our bills, we have clothes, we have food, and everything is provided in its time. I confess, we often do have struggle, and we’ve gone without meat, we’ve gone without reasonable shoes, we are currently going with clothes that are worn out and falling apart, we have no computers, our apartment is so small that the living room is our bedroom, when car insurance or veterinarian bills come we get nervous, we’ve known hunger, we’ve known what it is to only afford water, we’ve known what it means to have a drafty house that chills you in the winter, we’ve known what it means to skip changing the oil in the car because you can’t afford it, we’ve known what it means to debate paying the electric bill or buying groceries, we’ve experienced the ghetto poverty even outside of the ghetto, and yet I boast in these things because His grace is sufficient.

You want to know why my words are often so powerful? You want to know why I speak so much of resurrection? It is because if my God is not real, then my wife and I will perish. Everything is cast upon God. If He doesn’t come through for us, providing us our daily bread, then we don’t eat. It’s not expedient, and it certainly isn’t comfortable, but it’s life from the dead.

So I ask again:
How much are you willing to experience the first century phenomenon?

 

Resurrection

Yesterday was Easter. I do my best to not post on the weekends, which sometimes means not having as much traffic. I especially do my best to not post on holidays. So, this post is coming out today 🙂

The issue of resurrection is an issue that we all need to wrestle with until it comes into the kishkas (note: kishkes are a stuffed sausage, but kishkas are the guts). We celebrate the resurrection of Christ, but why? I’m what you would call a “slow learner”, especially in these subjects… I’ve noticed that there is much emphasis upon Jesus’ cross, Jesus’ resurrection, and Jesus’ ascension, but I could not for the life of me figure out why there is such an emphasis on it. I mean, I get the death, taking our sin and the curse to the cross, and I get the resurrection, that Jesus was vindicated by the Father, but why the ascension?

Come to find out, when you realize the importance of the ascension, you understand the importance of the other two…

When Jesus raised to the right hand of the Father, where He is currently sitting, it opened wide the veil for us as well to enter into that Holiest Place, to sit down, resting from our own work, and to remain seated with Christ in heavenly places.

Did you catch that?

The emphasis is upon Christ, and I recognize the importance of Psalm 110:1 (if you don’t, don’t worry about it right now). Yet, what makes this statement so significant isn’t that Jesus ascended, but that it grants access for us to join Him. For those of you who don’t know, I’m usually a stickler for not putting emphasis upon ourselves. Yet, in this case, reason with me…

Jesus died upon the cross, and now we are to take up our crosses and follow Him.

Where He goes, we cannot follow, but don’t neglect the last part of the statement that we shall follow Him. (Please note that the place where Jesus was about to go was into death and resurrected out of the grave. You can’t do that on your own.)

We read in Romans 6 that just as Jesus went down into the grave, so too have we been baptized into His death, and just as the glory of God the Father raised Jesus up from the dead, so too has the same glory, the same power raised us up.

We are seated with Christ in heavenly places.

 

What are you saying, Tommy? Why you talkin’ so cray cray?

What I’m saying is that the significance of the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus is that we now also have the opportunity to die, be raised, and ascend up unto the right hand of God, and be seated with Christ in that place. This is where the doctrines become reality. You can hold to the “doctrine” of resurrection, that Jesus rose and that we’ll raise on the last day. But, what did Jesus say to Mary? ” I am the resurrection.” Notice Jesus didn’t say, “I have the power to resurrect the dead”, but that Jesus, Himself, IS the resurrection. What that even means I can only intuit. It isn’t simply through Jesus that we have resurrection, as if it happens on the last day, but that in Christ we ARE raised with Him by the glory and power of God the Father.

We, too, have opportunity to suffer through the eternal Spirit unto death, and in that true suffering and death, find that God Himself will also raise us up, truly while we still yet are in the flesh. They who believe in the doctrine of resurrection, truly believe, will live in the resurrection. It isn’t simply that Jesus rose, and that one day we’ll also rise, but that we, right now, by the very power of God, have access to be alive in Christ. No more “die to sin”, because you already are dead. No more, “put to death the sinful nature”, because anything that is still “sinful nature” isn’t YOU sinning, but YOUR FLESH (Romans 7:17) – that is, the sin that dwells in you.

This changes everything.

There is no condemnation in Christ, because if you are “in Christ”, then you aren’t “in sin”. If you are walking “in the Spirit”, then you can’t be walking “in the flesh”. It’s that simple. When we make it difficult, it is either because our lack of faith, or because we simply aren’t preaching the Gospel.

How Long Will You Waiver – Exodus 4:24-27

Zipporah calls Moses a “husband of blood”. The story is that Moses and Zipporah begin to go to Egypt, and in going to Egypt Moses hasn’t even circumcised his own son. God comes in the night to kill the boy, which stems from what God said in Genesis 17:14, and Zipporah then circumcises this boy and rebukes Moses. There are a few things happening in the surroundings of this story, just as there are a few things happening within the story.

In my notes, I have the question, “Why is it that when the saints come to Egypt, judgment follows?” I cited Genesis 12:10, Genesis 37:36, Genesis 41:25-32, and Isaiah 30. Of course, these aren’t the only examples outside of Exodus. My mind thinks of when Jeremiah tells the Israelites to not go to Egypt, and they go anyway. There does seem to be some correlation here. When it happens only a couple times, we can assume that this is simply happenstance. Yet, when this happens over and over again in Genesis, and is now happening in Exodus, we’re now at whim to ask if there is a pattern.

Beyond the connection of the saints going to Egypt, and then judgment ensues, we have the connection between Moses and Joseph forming here. Joseph was taken by the hands of Midianites to Egypt, and now Moses is going from Midian to Egypt. Just as Joseph was not recognized by his brothers at first, so too was Moses rejected and not recognized as deliverer by the Hebrew slaves. It is upon the second revealing that the brothers of Joseph, as well as the kindred of Moses recognize God’s deliverance.

Both of these things go beyond these stories and unto our Lord Jesus Christ. We know that Jesus went to Egypt (Mat 2:13-15), and that He was not recognized “by his own” the first time (John 1:11). Something is definitely being proclaimed in these patterns, even if I’m not the one to fully comprehend what exactly it is that is being proclaimed.

Within the immediate story, I think that it is fairly reasonable to suggest that what is happening is that Moses is still struggling with his identity. We discussed back in Exodus 2 that Moses has to choose whether he will be recognized as an Egyptian, who will then continue in oppressing his brethren, or if Moses shall turn against Egypt by embracing himself as Hebrew. This kind of choice is put before all of us, and is not an easy one to make.

Do you consider yourself a child of God, or a child of your natural parents? The two don’t have to be pinned against one another in every circumstance, but certainly there is a disposition of the heart to latch onto one or the other. Does your identity come from your nationality, or ancestry? Are you known as being Jewish, or Italian, or Native American, or Canadian, or English, or German, or whatever other nationality you might be? And, maybe more importantly, is it a thing of pride to know your heritage and that you come from such ancestry? Such things are not always sin, but certainly if you’re English and can’t accept the Irish brethren there is a problem. Or, if you’re from the Middle East and find it hard to embrace the Jew, there is a problem.

At some level, we’ve all had this same difficult choice before us. Do you identify yourself as “white”, and therefore the orient, blacks, or hispanics are something vile in your eyes? Can I turn that question around? Are you black and find it impossible to accept the white neighbor, simply because of the racism and slavery of your people 150 years ago (which I’m not oblivious to the racism continuing even unto today)? And I have a hard time with the Native Americans. How is it that we as Americans and Canadians have scooted them onto reservations, raping them both physically, emotionally, and spiritually (truly in every sense we could), forcing them into some god-forsaken land that is dearth and crying out over the blood spilt, and yet have so little recollection of what we’ve done? It isn’t about politics, or the government apologizing. It isn’t about giving them some land that is actually cultivatable. It is about recognizing the sins of our forefathers, repenting over them, and therefore not forgetting the Native American people (especially since they are still within our own borders).

And what about the difficult question of the poor? It’s hard to see poverty when you live up on the hill with five televisions, more than enough food in your fridge, enough vehicles for each family member to have one, and a wardrobe that gives plenty of options to wear something different everyday. Again, it isn’t in these things that the sin lie. It is in the heart that has embraced such things, completely discontent with life, utterly seeking wealth and dependency, and yet unable to satisfy the underlying shame and nakedness that we all feel. Why else would you need to spend more than 3 minutes in front of the mirror in the morning? What are you hiding with all the make-up, and why are you so intent upon your hair being done a certain way, and why is it so taboo to simply put clothes on and leave the house after you’ve showered?

Even in this question I notice the fatal flaw. There are people in my city who haven’t the option to shower. What about them? Are they “bums” because they don’t have the same as you? Some are; I know this. Yet, how many videos need to be put on Youtube before we realize that some homeless people are just content to live with what they have, and they don’t need the hundreds of dollars in their pockets? You want to know what true contentment is? It is when you have come to the place where if you have much, you live with what you have, and when you have little, you live within your means with what you have. It is when you don’t complain over having little, or seek more when you have much. It is when you are able to accept what you’ve been paid (or not paid), enjoying the people, animals, and creation around you for all that it brings.

Moses has a choice he has to make. Does he identify with Egypt, and thus didn’t even circumcise his own son? Or, does he identify with God and the Hebrews? Of which kingdom are you subscribing to? The one of convenience and capitolism? The one of democracy and politics? The one of wealth and easy living? The one of painlessness and comfort? These things are death, and ultimately tactics of the devil to destroy you. The Kingdom of God is totally different. These things aren’t even important, and therefore we’re living for something entirely different that the world can’t even comprehend. We’re living for a living, and in living, we’re loving. That is what overcomes darkness, and that is what destroys our cliches of “pushing back darkness”. Light doesn’t “push back darkness”; it completely scatters it. In this way, love doesn’t merely cause people to feel accepted; it sets the captive free to the uttermost.

The Name of God – Exodus 3:11-15

If we were to write out a timeline of the Bible, we could have the “old covenant” representing the Old Testament from about the year 4000 B.C. unto 1 B.C. I’m not trying to make a point of young earth or old earth creation, but simply making it simple. It is assumed that those of the old covenant era were somehow different than we are, being under the “new covenant”. Thus, there is a division between Pentecost and everything before it.

This brings an interesting question. What about when Jesus was on the earth? There is a bizarre gap in our theology, no matter who you read, where it is almost impossible to explain whether there was a new covenant or not during the life of Jesus, or if it went into effect after His death, or was it after His resurrection, or was it not in effect until His ascension? Or, even more difficult is why was there no outpouring of the Spirit for 30 years after Jesus was birthed, lived, died, resurrected, and ascended? It wasn’t for another few days (I think ten?) until the Day of Pentecost.

What makes this difficult is not only that we’re left in the dark as to when the New Covenant begins, but also that we’re stuck questioning about various times in the Old Testament where it seems to contradict this thinking. For example, it is said of Saul that when he goes home, he shall be turned into a new person (1 Samuel 10:6). It is this verse that seems to spark what Paul declares is ours in the New Covenant in 2 Corinthians 5:17. Or, what about Enoch and Elijah? If the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23), and if the old covenant sacrifices could never take away sins (Hebrews 10:4, 11), then how is it that these two men never died?

Please understand the power of that question. This can’t be waved away by simply declaring “by God’s grace…” No, there demands something that would be able to take away the sin of Enoch and Elijah, otherwise there is absolutely no way for them to enter into heaven without death. So, we’re back to square one.

Is it possible we’ve been misunderstanding?

Maybe instead of writing out a dividing line between Old and New Testament, we should be writing out a dividing line between old and new covenants. What does that mean? The book of Hebrews is a desperate attempt to get us to understand that the whole point of Jesus’ life, ministry, death, resurrection, ascension, the outpouring of the Spirit, the coming of the new covenant, etc is to bring us into the eternal covenant. What do I mean by eternal covenant?

In Hebrews 3-4, the author is trying to get us to understand that there is an eternal rest, an eternal Sabbath, that was established on the seventh day when God rested. Notice Hebrews 4:3, “And yet His work has been finished since the creation of the world…”

Catch that.

His work has been finished since the creation of the world. How is it that God has ceased His work since day seven of creation? What, then, was the point of Jesus’ coming?

We enter into Hebrews 5, and the author discusses this Melchizedek priesthood. You see, the Old Testament has a problem within it. Aaron and his sons are priests. No one else is. So, how is it that David eats of the consecrated bread, and even gives it to his men? How does Elijah offer sacrifices? How does Moses offer sacrifices to consecrate Aaron and his sons? Why does God accept the sacrifice of David to stop the angel of death? Why are David’s sons called kohanim (priests)?

This is not something we can wave away quickly. None of these men were of the sons of Aaron. There are many more examples (not the least of which being Samuel). How can a just God accept these sacrifices? The answer, dear children, is that there is an eternal priesthood, one that Aaron was only a reflection of, identified as the Melchizedek priesthood.

In Hebrews 8-10, the whole point is that the sacrifices of the old covenant were not the end in themselves, but also just reflections – patterns – of the ultimate eternal sacrifice (Christ Jesus). Once again, the point of quoting Jeremiah 31:31-34 is not to establish that we’re looking at a “new covenant” (as if the old is before the new covenant), but that there is something that goes beyond the old covenant – before the old covenant. Sinai was the establishment of the old covenant, but before that was the eternal covenant (brit olam first being mentioned in Genesis 9:16).

Before the Sabbath of Exodus 20:8 there was Genesis 2:1-5. Before the priesthood of Aaron in Leviticus 8-9, there was Melchizedek. Before there was a sacrificial system in order, we see Abel sacrificing, Abraham tithing, Noah sacrificing when he got off the ark, etc. What is it that these men are a part of? What I would like to suggest is that they were a part of the eternal covenant – what we call the “new covenant”.

It is with this context that we enter into Hebrews 11. The saints that are mentioned here are not to be considered because they fought a good fight. They are to be considered because this is our heritage. They were of the new covenant, even before the ‘establishment’ of the new covenant. They were of a different caliber, a different reality – the eternal reality.

Just like we are told in Hebrews 12:18-24 that we have not come to Sinai, the covenant that was patterned after the heavenly reality, but rather we have come unto Zion – the true heavenly Mount of God – the saints of the Old Testament did not come unto the mount burning with fire, but to the holy Zion of God.

You might be wondering by this time what this has to do with the name of God…

The answer should be obvious:

everything

In the Hebrew word shem (which means name) there is an interpretation not always understood. It doesn’t just mean name, or stature, but character. It is the quintessence of the person. So, when Moses asks God, “What is your name?” he is asking for the quintessential ‘God’. The answer is yod hey waw hey. We pronounce it in English as Yahweh, or Jehovah. There isn’t good enough consensus on the Hebrew pronunciation to authoritatively say.

What is it about this name that is so important? Why do the Jews to this day not pronounce the name except in holy times, such as prayer or celebrating the high feasts? Why the reverence? Why the hubbub? Why the solemnity? Because this name represents the very core nature, the crux, the quiddity of the Being we call the Living God.

What could the name mean?

In the Hebrew letters, there is a story in itself. Ancient Hebrew was pictographs, and some scholars believe that the letters had significance to understanding the meaning of the words of ancient Hebrew (I happen to agree). So, for example, the word av (father) is made with an aleph (ox head) and a beth (tent). Why? Because the ox represents strength, and the father is the strength of the tent, or family. But the real question before us is what the yod hey waw hey means, right?

The yod was a forearm, also considered the hand. The hey was a man beholding, or worshiping. The waw was a tent peg, or nail. Thus, we have a sentence emerge: “Behold the hand; behold the nail.”

The quintessential nature of God is “behold the hand; behold the nail.” It is Jesus dying upon the cross. It is the eternal covenant, the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. For us to believe in, or into, the name of Jesus, we are believing into this already finished work – the work that God finished and therefore rested on the seventh day. Somehow Jesus appeared at the end of the age, but is the Lamb slain from the foundation (or creation) of earth.

This is what the name of God signifies. It signifies that they who believed in the name of Yahweh did believe into the name of Jesus. Those saints of the Old Testament are not unlike we. You see, what happened at Pentecost was that the Spirit was poured out upon the entirety of the ecclesia, the assembly, the people of God. No more is it the prophets, priests, and saints that alone enter into this “eternal covenant”. Now it is that “whosoever shall call upon the name of the LORD shall be saved”.

Does this make sense? For some it is semantics. For me it is one of the most important doctrines within Christianity. We have been grafted into the roots already formed. We are a part of something already in existence – into the eternal covenant that the saints of old were brought into. This is why the only text in the entirety of the Old Testament that speaks of a “new covenant” is Jeremiah 31. You cannot find it anywhere else. If it is so darn important that God is establishing a “new covenant” and doing away with the “old covenant”, then why is this teaching blatantly absent from everything in the Scripture except a few questionable texts of the New Testament?

It makes much more sense when we understand the whole picture here. The new covenant is the same as the eternal covenant. The eternal covenant is that heavenly covenant – the eternal that Hebrews is constantly pointing to and saying that the “old” was only a shadow of.

Turning Aside to See – Exodus 3 Intro

Exodus 3 follows immediately after Exodus 2. What took place in Exodus 2 is foundation to what we read here in Exodus 3. We saw a Moses who was discontent with the oppression of His people. We saw a Moses who was moved from discontentment to action (faith without works is dead). He took matters into his own hands, knowing full well that God was also displeased with the torment of His people. We saw a Moses who fled into the wilderness and came unto a well, where shepherds were oppressing some women. We saw Moses again rise up in indignation and act against the oppression. However, the chapter ends with God reassuring the reader that He has heard the cry of the oppressed, and that He remembers the covenant He has made.

Here in Exodus 3, we find the story picking up again. There is a question being raised. Though the reader has just read that God has not forgotten, we have not seen Moses receive that assurance. Moses has been outside of Egypt, away from his people for 40 years. Do you think that Moses is questioning whether God actually does see, actually does hear? I would. It is at this time, when Moses turns aside to see the burning bush that God gives that assurance and sends Moses back to Pharaoh to release the prisoner, set free the oppressed, and to proclaim good news to the poor.

There is a catch, though. There is always a catch.

Moses would never receive this calling, let alone this assurance, if he had not turned aside to see the bush that is burning, but is not consumed. This sight must have been a marvel, and yet how many of us would have passed on by, only wandering to ourselves as to how such an impossibility was possible? What is equally as radical as the miracle that God performs to get Moses’ attention is that Moses drops everything – we can liken it to leaving work without any warning – in order to investigate this most curious of sights.

For the majority of people, life is too important to drop in order to investigate some “abnormality”. So there were 6 million Jews that died in the Holocaust, and it is a marvel that any survived at all, but so what? Life happens, and I can’t spend too much energy trying to figure out why the Jewish people were not eradicated from Europe, as Hitler’s plan was… So there are millions of people fleeing from ISIS in Syria, and it is incredible that so many are even able to escape their own country, let alone be permitted entrance into other countries, but so what? The Middle East isn’t necessarily known for its generosity and hospitality…

These sorts of quickies are detrimental to our spirituality. It is a quickie because it continues with life, completely content to ignore the pain, the suffering, the oppression, and the hurting. Even if there is nothing that can be done, it behooves us to turn aside to see.

Our very Christianity was (supposedly) formed from a turning aside to see. Everything that is Christian is in utter opposition to the mindset and mentality of the world. It takes a turning aside to see in order to even recognize the alternative – the Gospel. It is not that we have been given the opportunity to go to heaven when we die, but that we have been given the opportunity of heaven now. It is not that we have been promised that peace on earth, or that sinlessness is coming when Jesus returns, but that we can experience these things now. Through being the people of God, we can both have peace, and extend peace.

In the first couple centuries, one of the practices of the early Church was to meet in homes. While there, they would go around the room expressing their needs, expressing the ways that God has provided, expressing the praises that they have, and expressing the burdens that they have. In expressing their needs, if someone else who was present had whatever it took to satisfy that need, whether food, clothing, shelter, employment, or something else, they would speak up and give their brother or sister whatever they lacked. That was simply what they did. It was called “breaking bread”. It was a political statement, because Caesar Augustus was known for handing out bread in the market place and claiming that he was the provider. Augustus called this propaganda “breaking bread”. So, the early church took that idea and used it in a way to provide amongst themselves, and whoever might have joined their fellowship.

It is the wisdom of the world, which is ultimately the wisdom of demons, to seek first your own kingdom. Selfishness is rampant, even within Christianity. When we can take the Bible and employ it in a way that it then benefits us, we have forsaken Christianity to embrace paganism, but called it “Christian”, and called our god of prosperity “Jesus”. There are marvelous statements withing Scripture about how God loves, protects, and blesses His people, but those statements are never to be taken as “promises” that we can “claim”. This is a relationship, and not a magic lantern.

To come into the faith, we must turn aside and see. We must recognize the absolute polarity of God’s ways and the ways of the world. Everything that we’ve before lived, all of our lifestyle choices, the entirety of our attitude, disposition, and mentality toward self and others needs to be radically challenged. Down to the very foundations of what we say, how we say it, why we say it, what we believe, why we believe it, how we act, and why we do what we do needs to be scrutinized under the most anguishing meticulous analysis.

While it might be technically “morally acceptable” to live in a large home, have multiple televisions, multiple cars, all sorts of wireless devices, video games, sports attire, etc, the question needs to be asked, “Does any of this display the character of God?”

This isn’t to say that we can’t have nice things. I type this out on a computer that is hooked up to Internet (albeit borrowed internet). So it isn’t the “things” in themselves. It isn’t about whether what you are doing, or where you are working, is glorifying to God, but about the inward heart. Is the heart bent upon selfishness, or does it lend itself toward others? If you were to learn that a brother or sister in Christ were homeless because they lost their job, and their family was not able to be supported, and so that led to family trouble, which led to divorce, which led to who knows what, would you be willing to take them in?

The radical claim of the Gospel, the radical demand of the Gospel, is that God has not left this world in darkness, but has been lavish enough to give His only begotten Son, paying the highest price – even an unthinkable price – so that you and I might know love. Now that you have experienced that love, go and likewise share it. Be lavish, go beyond simple words, and take up your cross to follow Him unto the ends of the earth.

Strange Fire – Leviticus 10:1-6

In the sweep of Leviticus, we have seen the sacrifices as prescribed by Moses (chapters 1-7). Right on the heels of this, we find Aaron and his sons being consecrated, and they then perform these sacrifices on their behalf and on behalf of the people. The result of the offering of the sacrifices, and the blessing of the people, was that God revealed His glory, and fire came out from the altar. There isn’t any time wasted before we read, “Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered strange fire before the Lord, contrary to His command.”

They offered strange fire…

The Hebrew verb used is zuwr. Here, we find it as zarah – strange. The idea of zuwr is that it is foreign, of another place. Thus, we see that the King James and NASB does render this word better than New King James and the NIV. It isn’t profane or unauthorized, though this is true; it is a foreign fire. The fire that was upon the altar was the fire of God, and these two men were bringing a fire from a different place, one of their own making.

Herein lies the point. It is not simply that this fire was unauthorized by God. The judgment of death by fire coming out from the presence of the Lord was because of a foreign fire, and not simply that they offered something unauthorized. For example, at the end of Leviticus 10, we read that the sons of Aaron did not eat the sin offering like they were commanded, but they aren’t killed for it. The issue here is something deeper than disobedience.

In October of 2013, John MacArthur held a “Strange Fire” conference, and then wrote a book with the same title afterward. In this conference, he made the claim that the Pentecostal and Charismatic denominations are offering strange fire before the Lord – even to the point of calling them demonic. The language is all the more severe and harsh in his book. The truth is that often we do think of the Charismatics as being those who offer “strange fire”, and there certainly is a lot of it.

You only need to do a small search to find the blatant error in the Charismatic Movement. You find dubious cults that came out of the Toronto Blessing, the maniacal Lakeland “revival”, the drunkenness of the Spirit, and even now there are some who claim to have “Holy Spirit marijuana”. These sorts of dubious miracles and hyped up hysterics are certainly false fire. There are no ifs ands or buts about it.

At the same time, we find Baptists who will speak so harshly against this kind of thing that they will even call those who are deceived utterly satanic. They will go as far as claiming that the Pentecostals and Charismatics are no better than the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses. As a Charismatic believer, this to me is false fire. This to me is bringing division into the Body of Christ, and that kind of spite only comes from one dark source.

Ultimately, what needs to be asked, more than the blame game, is what exactly constitutes strange fire? How do we know whether we’re offering it up to God? Is there a litmus test that we can go by?

The answer is yes.

The long answer is to say that we should test everything according to the Scripture. This is the “long answer” because it takes a lot of time and devotion to memorize the Bible and see if what we do and say adds up to it… The more basic way of seeking to know whether our prayers, our worship, our lifestyles, and even our attitudes are not bringing false fire is to understand the heart of God.

Once again, this seems like it is a timely devotion to learn God’s heart. The reality might shock you. We can simply go through 1 Corinthians 13 and ask if what we’re doing lines up with that. When we pray against someone, even calling down curses upon them, because they would speak against our ministry, is that showing love? If we are focused and intent upon obtaining a “prosperous future”, is that not self-seeking? Love is not self-seeking. When we “command” the Holy Ghost to come down, aren’t we using manipulation? What about when we will uncontrollably babble about how we wish that God would rend the heavens and come down? Oh, that You might send revival! And our constant cries over and over and over and over and over and over and prophesying and non-stop screaming at the heavens that revival might come – with all of the noise going up into the ears of God, I do wonder why there isn’t revival just abounding and flowing in our streets? Could it be that we’re coveting something that doesn’t exist (an imagined utopian experience of spiritual shots in the arm and blessed glory carrying us on clouds of splendor)?

And what about our worship? When our worship is singing songs about what God has done for me, and how much God loves me, and what God will do for me, and how much God is going to change the world on my behalf, etc is really just self-worship. This is my problem with Christian music. I have an extremely difficult time listening to Misty Edwards, Hillsong, David Crowder, Chris Tomlin, K-Love, or any of the modern artists. Often the songs revolve around me, and my relationship with God. There are so few songs that simply sing about the wonders of God for who He is. With that mentality, we ‘worship’.

I’ve said it in other blogs, and I recommend using my categories option to find some of them (search eternal perspective, principalities and powers, prophetic, resurrection, or zion), that our lives should be lived from another wisdom. We are to eat from the tree of life, and that is a selfless tree. While the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is composed of self preservation, the branches going out to self-gratification, and the fruit being sweet self-promotion, the seeds will spring up to death. There is no life in it. However, the tree of life is a cross, promoting self-sacrifice. The branches go out to self-control and denial of the carnal things, and the fruit itself is death. We would rather be a nobody who still has Christ than to be somebody without God. This is the antithesis of self-promotion. Instead of exultation, we seek humility. In that humility, we put to death all of our own desires and ambitions and lusts and dreams. We put it to death to take up the cause of Christ, and whatever it is that He would have us to do. In this, we find that the seeds within that fruit spring up to life and life abundantly.

Does everything that you do reflect that tree of life? Strange fire is constituted by the life lived from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This isn’t that difficult to identify. We simply need to be willing to examine ourselves. Does my prayer represent something sacrificial? Does it seek other’s benefit over my own? Does my worship of God seek the absolute glory of God, or is there fudge-room where I’m able to also get a name? Does my life represent humility, or does it represent the desire and ambition of “being successful”?

In putting to death our own desires, ambitions, lusts, and dreams, we don’t find that it is simply about “putting to death”. I went to college to be a graphic designer. I haven’t designed anything since then. I just picked up drawing again a few months ago (see some of my art at https://instagram.com/tjustincomer89/ ). After failing out of art college, I went to a community college to pursue a degree in physics. I dropped out. I started seeking for Christian education. I never made it to any Bible college. My desire was to get a degree, even if that degree was in ministry. It was God’s desire that I would learn by prayer, devotion, meditation, and generally spending time alone with Him.

My desire was to become a teacher. God’s desire was that I would live in the wilderness and pray for whoever needed it. It was my desire when I came to Christ to be a prophet. It was God’s desire that I become a homesteader. It was my desire that I would somehow be successful, and that money would never be a problem. It was God’s desire that I would continually have to watch the bank account go from a few hundred dollars to nothing, and then continue in prayer that God might sustain my life for my wife’s sake.

In all of these things, I wouldn’t trade what I have for the world. I might not have anything close to the American dream, nor do I have anything at all, actually… In possessions, I have few. In security, none but Christ. I’ll tell you what I do have, though: joy, love, peace, faith, communion with God, a broken heart of the Father, holiness – of these things that will never perish.

I love my life, even though I find myself in constant battle and struggle. I say this honestly, knowing that just a yesterday I was complaining about my life. It takes a reality check to be woken up. Life is difficult no matter which way you go. The reason for this is because we have an enemy of our souls. Life will never be easy with Satan attacking us. If it won’t ever be easy, then why should I search for easiness at all? I would rather commit all to Jesus and let Him sort out the details. He does a lot better job than I do.

What is strange fire?

Strange fire is anything and everything that does not come from the Spirit of Christ. When our lives are lived out of our own-ness, instead of out of the Spirit, we are offering strange fire. It leads to death. But the Spirit brings eternal life, even now in this moment.

Priestly Ordination – Leviticus 9

I skipped Leviticus 8, because I have already written on it here. Instead, I want to look at chapter 9. After the priest has been made pure before God, consecrated, and has waiting until the Lord would call them forth, they begin their ministry. There is a term, the five-fold ministry, that comes from Ephesians 4:11. I believe that all calls of God have root in priestliness. For those who desire to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, or teachers, you cannot legitimately have that role without priestliness. It takes more than schooling, education, understanding, knowledge, etc. Understanding and knowledge can be found outside of schooling, I don’t think anyone would argue, but often the pastor gets hired when they have the credentials. Sadly, this is one credential that often gets overlooked.

Notice Leviticus 9:1, “On the eighth day…” God had ordered that the priests be in waiting for seven days. For many of us, we would consider seven days to mean seven days. Yet, I have the inclination that the priests didn’t wait seven, but rather eight by our count. The day that they were consecrated was one, and then after that were seven more days of waiting before the Lord in silence. This totals eight days. I come to this conclusion from the book of Exodus. In Exodus 19, God tells Moses to tell the people to consecrate themselves, and in three days, He will show Himself to them. Moses then tells the people to consecrate themselves for three days, and on the fourth day, God will reveal Himself. God desired three full days. Here, God desires seven days. Aaron and his sons had spent some of the first day already. Therefore, I believe that there were another seven days after the first.

Looking back at what these sacrifices mean, we can come to better understanding of what it would signify for Aaron and his sons to offer these sacrifices. They have been consecrated before the whole house of Israel. Now, they offer sacrifices on their behalf first, and then on behalf of the people. They offer the sin offering and the burnt offering together (verse 7). In this, they find atonement to draw near to God and to be made pure before Him through the sin offering. The flesh and the hide were burned outside of the camp (verse 11) to show that they shall not let any flesh be exposed, nor touch the holy things of God. For, as Paul puts it, it is impossible for those controlled by the flesh to please God.

In verses 15 and onward, Aaron begins to offer the sacrifices for the people. We find they also have a sin offering and a burnt offering being given before God. When we had examined the sin offering and the guilt offering, we had come to the conclusion that there is necessarily a second work to be done. We don’t simply have the burnt offering to draw near to God, because then what about our sin nature? Rather, we find the burnt offering to be our atonement, and the sin offering being the filling of the Spirit. There has never been a time in history when all of Israel was filled with the Spirit. That awaits a future time, as the prophet Joel prophesied, “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh”.

They offer a grain offering. This signifies Israel’s tribute unto God. They aren’t simply going to be a people that treat God like an idol, but will rather be living sacrifices before Him. They offer the fellowship offering, by which we see their communion with God through their lives lived together. The priest and the people fellowshipping, where you wouldn’t know the difference between the priest and people if it weren’t for the job of the priest to offer the sacrifices on the people’s behalf. In all ways they are one. They eat from the same table, they commune with God in the same manner, and they learn and teach one another by the same Spirit. They are one body, though many members, and the priests are only distinguished in their function before God.

They offer the wave offering, where they take the breast and make the symbol of the cross with it. In this, we see that we are more than just fellowshipping together. We are giving ourselves for one another. Every day we die on behalf of our brothers and sisters. I pour my life into those that are near me, and they pour their lives into me. Through our bearing of the cross for one another, we find that we never lack and are never empty.

Finally, Aaron lifts his hands toward the people and blesses them. We find the words to this blessing in Numbers 6:22-27. The priest who is doing true work before God is the only one who has authority to bless the people. No other blessing is truly blessing. But their words shall be honored. It was when the priests blessed the people that the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people (verse 23). Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell face downward. If we hope to have a similar reaction by the saints that we assemble with, we too must take up the call to be a priest unto God. Our priesthood is not of Aaron, but of Melchizedek. It is by this order that David and his sons were priests. It is by this order that all of the prophets offered sacrifices unto God.

What was it about Elijah that caused his sacrifice to be accepted, and his prayer to be heard? Don’t think that it was something astounding, nor something specific to his call as the prophet. It is directly correlated to his priestliness. It is the priest alone who offers sacrifices before God, and the priest alone who can bless the people. It is the priest alone who will receive the answer by fire. That fire will manifest in various ways, but the response is always that the people fall upon their face before God. It is to this end that we pray, not that there be a reaction or that revival might come, but that God would be glorified. If there be any other motive, even the motive of reaction, we will not truly be able to offer the sacrifices in a priestly way, nor bless the people, because our focus and hearts will be set against the Lord and instead of for Him.

May the Lord bless you and keep you, and may He shine His face upon you and be gracious to you. May He turn His face toward you and give you peace. He shall put His name upon you, and He will bless you thoroughly. Amen.