Jesus as our Sabbath Rest

9 Nov

rest
For some of the festivals, God tells them why they are to celebrate it; for others, He just tells them what to do, when and how with no explanation. The Sabbath is one that He explains. The precedent goes back to creation week. God created the world in six days, but on the seventh day He rested and blessed the day.
He created it for our good. We need to rest from our work. We need to focus on God and be thankful. “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath,” as Jesus said in Mark 2:27 But over time, like so many of the other laws, the Jews made rules to build a hedge around the law, to prevent inadvertently breaking the law. God said not to take His name in vain. So they began to call God Hashem, which means, The Name. (Kind of like how Macbeth is referred to as The Scottish play) God said not to work, so they defined what work was, i.e. pressing an elevator button. (Sabbath elevator at Mount Sinai Hospital)
This was a point on which the Jewish leadership clashed with Jesus on many occasions. He dared to heal on the Sabbath, and allowed His disciples to glean and eat on the Sabbath. (Luke 6:1-11)
He was so gentle with sinners. But He would not tolerate the hypocrisy and harshness of the religious leaders. Matthew 15:1-9 is a good example of this.
“Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, ‘Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.’
He answered and said to them, ‘Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”—then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:
‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”
The Jewish leaders were upset because the disciples didn’t practice ceremonial cleansing. But Jesus was more concerned about the way the Pharisees set aside God’s law in favour of their traditions. In this case, people were getting out of caring for their parents by saying they had promised the money to God. They were practicing the letter of the law and giving the appearance of holiness while ignoring the spirit of the law and neglecting the care of their parents. God doesn’t care for lip-service, He sees our hearts and our motives.
He also pointed out that they had things turned around, being so careful to tithe even their spices, while leaving undone the important issues like mercy and justice.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” Matthew 23:23

They especially hated that Jesus healed on the Sabbath, on several occasions. (John 5:9,10,18,9:14,16, Luke 6:6-11)

“So the scribes and Pharisees watched Him closely, whether He would heal on the Sabbath that they might find an accusation against Him.” Luke 6:7
“Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.”
The Lord then answered him and said, ‘Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?’ And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.” Luke 13:10-17

I used these New Testament examples to help explain the Sabbath because our relation to it is different from Old Testament saints. We need to take our instruction from what Jesus said about it.

The Sabbath represented our rest from trying to work to earn our salvation. That’s why for most of the holidays, like the Day of Atonement, even if they weren’t on the Sabbath, they were instructed to do no customary work. This wasn’t just so they could enjoy the holiday, but so they’d understand that while the High Priest was in the Holy of Holies making atonement for the people, they could do nothing to aid him. Their part was to afflict their souls, and think about their sin, and hope God would accept the offering and forgive them.
Likewise, since Jesus has provided atonement for us, without our aid, now we no longer work for our salvation, because we are in our Sabbath rest. The way we afflict our souls is to repent.
There is a sense that the Sabbath, like many things, has the component of now and not yet. We are now in our Sabbath rest because the work is done for our salvation, and yet the fullness of our rest will be realized in glory when we are free of sin. Then we will be finished from our labours.
So why were the punishments for some laws seemingly lax compared to the death penalty for gathering sticks on the Sabbath? It’s because of what the Sabbath represented. An example is a wedding ring. It represents our commitments, vows, promises and love. If we take it off and throw it at our spouse’s feet, that is a powerful image of how we feel about the marriage. Likewise, when an Israelite broke the Sabbath, they were rejecting the future promised rest.
From Sabbath to Lord’s Day
The important thing is to know that because Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday (the feast of firstfruits) John 20:1 and appeared again the following Sunday, John 20:19, sent the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (also a Sunday), met to break bread and hear preaching, Acts20:7, the early church began to refer to it as The Lord’s Day, and met to worship on that day, even while their culture still had Saturday as a day of rest. Paul also said to set aside our offering on the first day of the week. 1 Cor. 16:2 The Apostle John also saw his revelation of end times when he was “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.” Rev. 1:10 Because of these reasons, we worship on Sundays.
As for how much you should or shouldn’t do on Sundays, Paul said we must be fully convinced in our own minds and not judge our brothers and sisters on these secondary issues. We shouldn’t major on the minors.
“One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.” Romans 14:5,6
The problem with Seventh Day Adventists is more than just on which day they meet to worship. Included in their beliefs are a rejection of the finished work of Christ as sufficient to secure our salvation and a subsequent religion of works, including an attempt to follow dietary laws. However, they only pick and choose which laws to follow, since we are not in a theocracy, nor do we offer animal sacrifices. James says that if we go the route of trying to obtain salvation by the works of the law, we are obligated to keep it all perfectly, because like a chain, it doesn’t matter which link you break, the chain is broken.
“For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” James 2:10

Furthermore, they also have unorthodox views about what happens when we die, with a belief in soul sleep until the resurrection, rather than being “absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” 2 Cor. 5:8
You can always know a cult or religion is wrong when you examine what they think about Jesus.

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Jesus in the Offerings/Festivals in Leviticus

8 Nov

Wave-offering1

Jesus pictured in the various offerings/festivals in Leviticus
We already looked at the Passover lamb and the feast of unleavened bread when we studied Exodus. We also just studied the sin offering and scapegoat on the Day of Atonement. However, there were many other offerings required of the children of Israel, established by God through Moses at the birth of the nation.
Wave offering/feast of Firstfruits: The literal meaning of firstfruits refers to the first portion of the harvest which is given to God. They are the first crops to come in, a pledge or hope of the greater harvest to follow, and they are specifically dedicated to God. It also referred to setting aside the firstborn, whether of man or beast.
“You shall not delay to offer the first of your ripe produce and your juices. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to Me. Likewise you shall do with your oxen and your sheep. It shall be with its mother seven days; on the eighth day you shall give it to Me.” Exodus 22:29,30
While there is no New Testament admonition for Christians to give firstfruits, we know that God loves a cheerful giver and that we are supposed to set aside our offering on the first day of the week as God has prospered us. It is supposed to be purposeful, not haphazard.
“On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.” 1 Cor. 16:2

This feast was instituted when the nation of Israel was still wandering without land or crops. It was observed in faith that God would lead them to the land He promised.
Three holidays incorporated the giving of firstfruits; the Passover on the 14th, the Feast of Unleavened Bread from Sabbath to Sabbath beginning on the 15th, and the Feast of Firstfruits on the 16th of the month of Nisan. These were the dates that Jesus was crucified (Friday), in the grave (Saturday) and raised again (Sunday/Lord’s Day).
In Paul’s great chapter on the Resurrection, Jesus is referred to as “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
“But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.” 1 Cor. 15:20-23
“Christ rose as the first to be resurrected, but all who trust in Him will also rise from the dead in the final ‘harvest.’” Leon Morris
Similarly, Israel is referred to as the firstfruits, and the greater harvest is the ingathering of the nations of the world. “Israel was holiness to the LORD,
The firstfruits of His increase.” Jer. 2:3a
“Yet the number of the children of Israel
Shall be as the sand of the sea,
Which cannot be measured or numbered.
And it shall come to pass
In the place where it was said to them,
‘You are not My people,’ There it shall be said to them,
‘You are sons of the living God.’ Hosea 1:10
Paul also referred to the gift of the Holy Spirit as a firstfruit, or down payment of even greater blessing to come. “Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” Rom. 8:23
Christians are also referred to as firstfruits. “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.” James 1:18
This reminds us that all we are and have belong to God.
“Under the old covenant, sacrifices merely ‘covered’ sins, but in the new covenant, these sins are taken away entirely. Heb. 7:27, 9:12,25-28 There is no more need for continual sacrifices, because Jesus provided a once-for-all sacrifice for all our sins forever.” Heb. 9:11-14,24-28, 10:11-20 John J. Parsons
“The substitutionary shedding of blood, the life-for-life principle, is essential for the true at-one-ment with God.” John J. Parsons
The Feast of Pentecost: Leviticus 23:15-21
The Israelites were to count 50 days or seven Sabbaths from the day they offered the firstfruits on the day after the Sabbath (Sunday), to another Sunday. This feast was called the Feast of Weeks, later called Pentecost. They were to offer two loaves of fine flour made with leaven, along with seven lambs of the first year, without blemish as a burnt offering, with a grain offering and a drink offering. They were to sacrifice a kid of the goats as a sin offering and two male lambs of the first year as a peace offering.
The two loaves made with leaven, represented the inclusion of the Gentiles in the family of God. See Eph. 2:11-22,3:6, Gal. 3:28,29, 1 Cor. 12:13
Fifty days after Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday (the Firstfruits), the disciples were in an upper room. The promised gift of the Holy Spirit came on them and they spoke in tongues (15 known languages) Acts 2:6,8,11
The Spirit was given freely as a gift to those who already believed. This one Spirit unites all believers, Jew and Gentile alike, so we are now partakers of Abraham’s blessing that all the world would be blessed through him. Gen. 12:3
“And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” Acts 11:15-18
“Then Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.’” Acts 10:34,35

Jesus as the High Priest

7 Nov

High Priest
The first High Priest was Moses’ brother, Aaron. All subsequent priests were to come from the tribe of Levi only and the High Priest from among the sons of Aaron. For their duties, they were to be consecrated (set apart) and sanctified (made ceremonially clean and holy) through some rituals like washing, wearing priestly garments and being dabbed with blood from the sacrifice.
The priestly garments were designed “for glory and for beauty.” Ex.28:2 Two articles of clothing contained the names of the twelve sons of Israel; the ephod had 2 memorial stones set on the shoulders, Ex. 28:12 and the breastplate had the names engraved over his heart.
“So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel on the breastplate of judgment over his heart, when he goes into the holy place, as a memorial before the Lord continually.” Ex. 28:29
This represented Jesus’ cross-work where He died specifically for His people and His future intercession for us before the throne as our Advocate. His death wasn’t to make salvation theoretically possible if only someone would believe. Jesus said, “I lay down my life for the sheep.” John 10:15b
The High Priest was consecrated as holy. He had to offer sacrifices first for himself, because he was a sinner, and then for the people. But Jesus, because He was sinless, only offered up the sacrifice of Himself on our behalf.
“…who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.” Heb. 7:27
The High Priest had bells on the hem of his garment. This way people could hear him. They were never sure if God would accept the sacrifice and forgive them.
“And upon its hem you shall make pomegranates of blue, purple, and scarlet, all around its hem, and bells of gold between them all around: a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe all around. And it shall be upon Aaron when he ministers, and its sound will be heard when he goes into the holy place before the LORD and when he comes out, that he may not die.” Ex. 28:33-35
Side point. It’s believed the pomegranate was there to remind them of the first sin of eating the forbidden fruit.
“He had bells and a rope attached, because the experience could be so overwhelming that those outside listened to the bells ringing, meaning that the priest was moving about; but if the bells stopped ringing, they would pull him out, not daring to enter themselves.” Vladimir Berzoonsky
But we know that Jesus’s sacrifice was accepted. The evidence of this was His resurrection from the dead. If He was a false teacher He would have stayed dead. God vindicated both His life and His work. “…who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.” Rom. 4:25 and “…because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:31
The High Priest was charged with keeping the light burning at all times. He also burned incense, which represented prayer.
“Aaron shall burn on it sweet incense every morning; when he tends the lamps, he shall burn incense on it. And when Aaron lights the lamps at twilight, he shall burn incense on it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations.” Exodus 30:7,8
Jesus not only intercedes for us in prayer, but the oil in the lamp is often compared to the Holy Spirit, which Jesus sent after He had ascended to Heaven. This oil now lights our lamps continually.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matt. 5:16

The High Priest/priest/people would lay their hand on the sacrifice to identify with it/lay their sins on it, and then witness its’ death. This showed them the penalty for sin. They probably wouldn’t appreciate how serious and heinous sin is by giving a piece of fruit.
“And he brought the bull for the sin offering. Then Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the bull for the sin offering, and Moses killed it.” Lev. 8:14,15a
Jesus identified with us, taking on our sins even though He was the innocent Lamb of God.
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Cor. 5:21

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,” 1 Pet. 3:18

Jesus is a better High Priest because He lives forever.
“Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Heb. 7:23-25
”But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” Heb. 9:11,12
Jesus is considered our High Priest even though He was from the tribe of Judah, rather than the tribe of Levi, because He was a priest after the order of Melchizedek. We studied this in Genesis. See also all of Hebrews 7.
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9
“And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.” Rev. 5:10
So if we believers are priests, what kind of sacrifices do we offer to God?
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1
“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” Heb. 13:15
“But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” Heb. 13:16
So our sacrifices are our lives, daily, our praise and thanksgiving, and our good works.

Jesus is our Exodus

6 Nov

moses_parting_red_sea_resistance2010
The account of the Exodus of the Israelite slaves out of Egypt is not just an epic story of how our great God brought His people out of slavery with a mighty hand, although it is that.
In many ways, we see echoes of the Exodus in the New Testament, as Jesus again and again demonstrates He is a better Israel.
Israel came out of Egypt.
“Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the LORD; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the LORD.’” Ex. 6:6-8
Jesus comes out of Egypt. “When he (Joseph) arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, ‘Out of Egypt I called My Son.’” Matt. 2:14, 15
This refers to Israel as God’s son, His firstborn.
“Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Israel is My son, My firstborn. So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn.”’” Ex. 4:22, 23
It also refers to Jesus as His beloved Son. “And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’” Matt. 3:17 “And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” Luke 9:35 Jesus is also called the firstborn. “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the pre-eminence.” Col. 1:18 Not only was Jesus God’s Son, He was a true and better Israel, who obeyed and didn’t test God with unfaithfulness and disobedience.
The children of Israel were baptized when they passed through the Red Sea. “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” 1 Cor. 10:1-4
Jesus was baptized in the Jordan. “Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.” Matt. 3:13
God gave the children of Israel manna to eat in the wilderness. “So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, ‘What is it?’ For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, ‘This is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat.’” Ex. 6:15
Jesus spoke of Himself in this way, as “the bread that came down from Heaven”, to draw His hearers ‘minds back to the wandering in the wilderness; to the manna God fed to His people. Manna was ‘angel’s food’. There has never been anything like it since. He even rebuked those who asked for a sign, like Moses gave manna. This was the day after He had just fed the five thousand in the wilderness. He said, “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” John 6:49-51
He was demonstrating His superiority both to Moses, and to the manna, itself. It was merely a picture, He was the real thing. It could sustain for only a day, He feeds us and we never hunger again. Manna was bread that rained down from Heaven on the Israelites during their sojourning in the wilderness. They ate it until they reached the border of Canaan.
The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years. “And your sons shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and bear the brunt of your infidelity, until your carcasses are consumed in the wilderness. According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know My rejection.” Numbers 14:33, 34
“Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness.” Heb. 3:17
Jesus was tempted in the wilderness for forty days and nights. “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry.” Matt. 4:1,2
God gave the Israelites water from the rock. “Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.” Ex. 17:6
When Jesus, the Rock was smitten (on the cross), water and blood came out. “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.” John 19:34 The blood was for covering and the water was for cleansing.
Finally, overall, this is the story of the exodus, or going out, of Israel.
“And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them.” Ex. 7:5
Jesus death on the cross was His exodus. At the transfiguration, we are told, “And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” Luke 9:30,31 Some versions refer to it as His decease (NKJV), His departure (ESV), His death (TLB), His leaving the world (WYC), His going out (YLT) , His exodus (NLT), or the way He must take and the end He must fulfill in Jerusalem (Phillips). Coupled with the phrase of accomplishing His decease, it gives the impression of a great work. Usually death is not referred to as an accomplishment.

Finally, Jesus is our exodus, or way out of our slavery to sin. “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.” Romans 6:22
So through all these images, we see Exodus Replayed in the life of Jesus.

Christ as the Blood of Abel

5 Nov

Cain_and_Abel008
Read Genesis 4:1-15
Sadly, we see the effects of the fall of Adam and Eve already in the next generation, where the first murder is recorded. Poor Abel is mentioned in this chapter only for his birth, his offering and his death. His birth is recorded in verse two and his murder in verse eight. He is mentioned in several other places in Scripture, though. It’s there that we get a commentary of what went on here in Chapter Four.
“By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.” Heb. 11:4
Jesus also referred to him as “righteous Abel”.
“…that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.” Matt.23:35
Abel is both a type of the true believer and a shadow of Christ.
He is a type of the true believer because of his offering and his faith. He brings an offering of “the firstborn of his flock, and their fat.” This represents the first and best, as fat was considered the best part of an animal. We also know the animal was slain, or else they could not get the fat. So a blood sacrifice is implied. Abel did this in faith, seeing the lamb as his substitute before God, until the Promised Seed would come.
Cain, by contrast, brought “an offering”. He came with neither his firstfruits nor his best. He came with the work of his hands, thinking he could approach God his own way, rather than the way God prescribed. Cain and Abel would have learned from the example and teaching of their parents, that God must be approached by faith and with blood. This was their first expression of faith and dependence on God as adults.
God sees the heart. It wasn’t just the type of sacrifice that was a problem, but the attitude. The offering and the worshipper are inseparable. When God appeals to Cain in mercy, Cain gets angry. He had no reason to be angry, and he could still make it right. Cain was envious. He takes his brother out to a field where he thinks no one will see them, and kills him. He should have loved him because he was his brother, and even more so, protected him as a younger brother. Instead we see,
“…not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.” 1 John 3:12
God asks, “Where is Abel, your brother?” I find this interesting; as if there was any other Abel in town. God does this to emphasize the heinous nature of the crime and to strike at Cain’s conscience. Cain lies. “I do not know,” as if he could conceal his crime. Then he goes further with a surly response which questions the right of the Almighty to even ask. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” His response reveals his hard heart and a lack of any natural brotherly affection.
“And He said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.’” Gen. 4:10
This shows God’s outrage. Remember, God never asks a question to get information. He knows all things. He asks, as a parent would, to see if Cain will confess and repent. Just as earlier, He asked, “Adam, where are you?”
Cain complains that his punishment is greater than he can bear. He is not sorry for his sin, only sorry he got caught. He fears a violent death, like his brother. Matthew Henry says, “It shows great hardness of heart to be more concerned about our sufferings than our sins.”
Even so, God again shows mercy to him by delaying the sentence of death already over his head because of the disobedience of his parents.
Abel is also a shadow of Christ because Abel’s sacrifice is imperfect, whereas Christ’s is perfect. “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the most holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” Heb. 9:12
He is also a shadow because of the contrast between the intent of the blood of Abel vs. the blood of Christ. God said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” Gen. 4:10 Abel’s blood cries for justice and vengeance, but Christ’s blood cries for forgiveness.
“…to Jesus the Mediator of a new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.” Heb. 12:24
Because of Christ’s death, we can enter the presence of God, from which our first parents were banished. “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus…” Heb. 10:19
Also, one day we’ll be in the actual presence of God and have access to the tree of life, also banned from our first parents. Rev. 22:14
“Jesus is the true and better Abel who, though innocently slain, has blood now that cries out, not for our condemnation, but for acquittal.”
Timothy Keller

Christ as the Seed of the Woman

4 Nov

eve
Read Genesis 3

Genesis 3:15
And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.

Effects of the Fall
Immediately after they ate the fruit, the lights went on, or should I say, out. (Gen.3:7) The loss of innocence led to a feeling of shame. Their guilt is expressed in the awareness of nakedness. This is in contrast to before the fall when they were naked and unashamed.

Redemption is linked to God providing a covering, or Atonement for sin. Gen.3:21 Even the mercy seat is a covering of the ark, which contained the law, which we broke. It was the place where estranged parties were reconciled. Ex. 25:7

They were also now afraid of God. Whereas before, they had fellowship with God, now they saw Him as their Judge. “I was afraid,” Adam admits in Gen. 3:10

There was a change in their relationship; blame and lack of trust; Gen.3:12

They realized they were naked, and went about trying to make themselves presentable, covering themselves with fig leaves. We often do this, too. Many people won’t come to God until they feel they’ve cleaned up their act. They try to cover themselves with the fig leaves of good works, hoping God won’t see that they’re spiritually naked.

The Blame Game
As the head of the family, Adam must give an account of what has been done. He is questioned first, even though God knew Eve ate first. As I said, it’s forever referred to as Adam’s sin, not Eve’s, although they are equally guilty, and equally fallen. He was the representative for all mankind yet to be born, and the head of the family.

“They show their allegiance to Satan by distorting the truth, accusing one another, and accusing God. Their efforts to conceal their sin only expose it.” Geneva Study Bible notes.

Imagine Eve’s shock when he blames her, as if he wasn’t responsible for his own actions. I can imagine her standing there staring at him with her mouth hanging open. Notice he doesn’t try to say he was deceived; that much at least is true. She handed it to him and he ate it. He also subtly blames God, “the woman You gave me.” Gen. 3:12 He implies it was God’s fault for giving Eve to him in the first place.

The Sentence
The Supreme Court of the Universe is now in session. The Judge has heard the testimonies (i.e. excuses), and He is ready to pass sentence. There is no question as to whether He can do this; it is His right as Creator.
For Satan, God doesn’t even ask for his side of the story, but just assigns judgment on him. God knows his motives and what he has done. The first part of the sentence is on the serpent itself, which is a symbol of Satan (Gen. 3:14). The second part is on the Devil, himself.

“Humanity is now divided into two camps: the redeemed who love God, and the reprobate, who love self. This is seen as soon as the next generation in the hostility of Cain against Abel.” Geneva Study Bible notes.

But see the grace of God. Even as He is passing judgment, He is giving us the first promise of a Redeemer. He does not leave them without hope. The woman’s Seed will gain the victory. As sin entered the world through the agency of a woman, so the Saviour of sinners enters the world by way of a woman. Jesus is Mary’s son. He had no human father. The reference to “her Seed” is a clue, as biology teaches us that men have seed, women; an egg. Yet this future Redeemer is “her Seed”, which is contrary to nature. This hints at the Virgin Birth, or rather, the Virginal Conception. It was a normal birth, but a unique conception.

This verse in Gen. 3:15 is referred to as the Protevangelium, or first gospel. We understand it by later revelations, as they unfold and God’s plan of salvation becomes clearer as history unfolds. Yet we know that the theme of redemption is the Bible’s main story line. Even Jesus said as much after His resurrection, when it’s said on the road to Emmaus, “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Luke 24:27

It’s been understood that the Seed of the woman is the Redeemer, and crushing the serpent’s head is His ultimate triumph over Satan and his kingdom. We see hints of His human nature as the Seed of the woman, and yet because He is able to defeat Satan, He must be God. He must participate in the nature of those He will redeem, while at the same time he must have the power to subdue all evil. From Genesis to Revelation, this God-man Redeemer is held up as the object of worship. Without this beautiful, life-giving promise, Scripture would be a dull record of historical facts and laws.

This Seed of the woman is more than just a way of saying that mankind will triumph over sin. It’s a particular person, her Seed. Later we’ll also learn He is the Seed of Abraham, (Gal. 3:16) again referring to an individual, but now hinting that He’d come through the Jewish line. Then later we learn it’s in the line of Judah, and later in the family of David.

This promise of the Redeemer was repeated and amplified until He came, so they’d recognize Him.

In Genesis, Jesus is the Word Who Creates

3 Nov
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“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light, and there was light.” Genesis 1:1-3
Because Christ is eternal, we don’t have to wait long to be introduced to Him. Although the first promise of the gospel is in Genesis 3:15, He is already present in the first chapter of the Bible. God creates through His Word.
‘The Word’ is one of the names John uses for Jesus.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” John 1:1-3
“…and His name is called the Word of God.” Rev.19:13
Jesus is also present in the heavenly council when God decides to make something unique in creation.
“Let us make man in Our image, according to our likeness…” Gen. 1:26
Have you ever wondered who God was talking to? Not the angels, since we are not made in their image. This is not just the majestic language of the royal ‘we’ because in the next verse it reverts back to a singular pronoun.
“So God made man in His image: in the image of God He created him; male and female, He created them.” Genesis 1:27
We also see in other parts of Scripture that Christ is the Creator; His life did not begin in Bethlehem. We also see the way Jesus talks about Himself. He says “for this reason I came into the world”. You and I would talk about when we were born. His language suggests He came from another world. His enemies pick up on this. Notice Pilate, when he was told Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, came back in and asked Jesus, not, “Who are you?”, but “Where do you come from?”
Also, Jesus said, “…before Abraham was, I am.” Jesus referred to His pre-existence and used the divine name, I AM when His opponents challenged His assertion that Abraham had seen His day and was glad.
“You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” John 8:57
In order to prove His pre-existence, He could have answered, “Before Abraham was, I was.” But instead He made the startling assertion, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” Grudem says He combined two assertions whose sequence seemed to make no sense; “Before something in the past happened, (Abraham was), something in the present happened (I AM).” The Jews understood His meaning right away; first from the divine name, ‘I am’, and then because He claimed to precede Abraham and to have seen him; so much so that they picked up stones to stone Him.
The fact that Christ is the Creator was proved when He was on earth. While all of His miracles established His deity, I find His control over nature to be astounding.
When He calmed the storm that had the disciples quaking in fear, by His word, “Peace, be still,” that was when the disciples really began to fear. (Mark 4:35-40)
“And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, ‘Who can this be, that even the wind and sea obey Him?’” Mark 4:41
Another example was when Jesus walked on the water. To many, this is the very definition of impossible. But they don’t know my Jesus! See Mark 6:48-51
This same God Who created the world by speaking also speaks into our hearts, effectually calling us to Himself.

“And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” John 10:4
We first hear His voice and wake from spiritual death. At the Resurrection, His voice will wake us from physical death.

“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” John 5:28,29

As God, His voice wakes the dead.” For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son.” John 5:22

Prayer: Thank You, Jesus that You are our Creator. Thank You that Your voice brought this world into existence. Thank You that we heard Your voice calling us to salvation, and that Your voice will call us from our graves.

Questions: Do you see the trinity in the Old Testament? Do you realize Jesus is the Creator?

Response: Study the creation/evolution issues at a reputable site like answersingenesis.org

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