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Posts Tagged ‘mercy’

forgiveness-and-reconciliation

In Exodus 34:10-28. God and his people are reconciled.  Peace has been made after their sin.  God has not only forgiven them, but poured his love, mercy, and affections upon them saying, “…Behold, I am making a covenant.  Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation.  And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.” ~Exodus 34:10

Not only is God making a covenant with these newly restored people, he is sacrificing other groups for their advancement.  He has again made them the very apples of his eye.

We know this because God promises to drive out all of those living in the land they are about to inhabit.  He specifically instructs them to tear down their false gods and refrain from making friends of those who worship other gods.  He reminds them – doubtless due to their most recent failures – “for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God,” and “You shall not make for yourself any gods of cast metal.” ~Exodus 34:14,17  Matthew Henry says, “Those cannot worship God aright who do not worship him alone…That they might not be tempted to worship other gods, they must not join in affinity or friendship with those that did….such is the corruption of nature that the bad are much more likely to debauch the good than the good to reform the bad.” 

God very specifically tells his people not to intermarry with idolaters.  The reason is that their covenant is with Him and not to be exchanged for alliances with them.  Let us remember these words anytime we are among unbelievers.

Next, God commands His people to keep feasts of remembrance, make sacrifices to him, honor the Sabbath, and come before him regularly three times per year. The reason for these feasts was to remind the people of God’s provision, to remind them to give their best to God, and to remind them to rest, obey, honor and remember Him as their only true God.

In verses 21-24, we find God all but saying, “Remember me.  Remember me.  Remember me.”  In verse 25 – Remember my provision (the manna in the desert), remember my salvation (the Passover), and in verse 26 – remember not to worship idols (The boiling of a calf in its mother’s milk was a pagan ritual and superstition.) Remember me; remember me; no idols.  Remember me; remember me; remember me.  Remember me; remember me; no idols.

Finally, he tells Moses to write it down for them.  Moses fasted forty days and forty nights and rewrote the Ten Commandments on the tablets.  How utterly amazing.  Our God is a God of reconciliation.  He is a jealous God and will stop at nothing to eradicate idols and idolatry from our lives.  He makes his people remember him that we might not sin against him.  Amen.

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newstart

Chapter 34 begins with God’s mercy and grace on display.  He tells Moses that he will once again write on tablets and give the people His law.  Moses had broken the first tablets out of righteous anger at the people for their sin with the idolatrous golden calf.  But Moses interceded in prayer for them and forfeited personal advancement for the sake of these rebellious people.  Moses was a good leader who cared for his friends. Though there was discipline for their disobedience and not all of them escaped death because of their sin, God heard Moses’ prayer and honored it.  A remnant of God’s people were saved and received mercy because of Moses’ and God’s love for them.

The first thing I thought of when I read chapter 34 was how apart from chapter 33, we wouldn’t have a chapter 34.  In other words, Apart from God’s discipline for their sin, their leader’s earnest prayer and intercession for them, and the people’s genuine repentance, they would have had no opportunity for true reconciliation with God.  They would have had no new tablets; no second chance; no new start.  The guys who are left here as the remnant receiving grace are the guys who raised their hand in chapter 33:26 when Moses asked, “Who is on the Lord’s side?  Come to me,”  and subsequently had to execute judgment on all those who didn’t raise their hand – all the men who just so happened to be their own brothers, sons, and family members.

Matthew Henry writes an excellent summary of this event saying, “The treaty that was on foot between God and Israel being broken off abruptly, by their worshiping the golden calf, when peace was made all must be begun anew, not where they left off, but from the beginning.  Thus backsliders must repent, and do their first works, Revelation 2:5.”

All must be begun anew, not where they left off, but from the beginning.  In other words, anytime we sin, we cannot just expect time and inertia to excuse it and go on as if we did not commit treason against Almighty God and our brothers and sisters.  Many in the church adhere to this damning false doctrine.  We cannot ever just pretend that what we did to injure others and dishonor God didn’t happen or doesn’t need our full attendance and genuine repentance, both of which we are responsible to carry out to the very best of our ability.  We cannot just pick up where we left off with God or others after we sin.  We must not only stop sinning, but we must also humble ourselves and apologize to God and others, take full responsibility for what we have done, and make true reconciliation possible.

The people of Israel showed evidence of their repentance by obeying God, waiting on their intercessor in watchful diligence while he prayed outside the camp for them, and by worshiping while they waited.  All this happened in chapter 33.  Without these proofs of genuine repentance, there would be no chapter 34 – no true reconciliation between they and God and their good leader.  Neither will there be any new starts in our lives if we will not obey our intercessor, Christ, worship him only, and earnestly facilitate and desire true reconciliation after a fault.  If we will not do these things, we cannot move forward after sin.  We are stuck where we are in the wilderness until we repent with all seriousness and are willing to do whatever it takes to make things right with God and others.

So, Moses had to cut out the tablets this time, but God was giving the words.  God said, “I will write on the tablets…” but later we find Moses being called to physically record his words.  This is how the entirety of God’s Word is written.

Moses had to prepare himself and the tablets and go back up to Mt. Sinai to meet with God.  No one – not even an animal – was permitted to be anywhere opposite of the mountain where they met.  Notice how the things that they had complained and whined about before they sinned are the very things God tests them in before they move forward.  Firstly, they had to wait the same length of time they had complained about saying, “We don’t know what has become of him…” while Moses was up on the mountain getting the tablets (40 days).  God did not shorten the time to appease them or make it easier to obey the second time around.  Nor did he let them watch while they waited (they had to stay on the opposite side of the mountain) so they might “know what has become of him” this time.  They hadn’t seen before and they weren’t permitted to see now.  God was testing their faith in his display of extreme grace and mercy toward them in this second chance of sorts.

In verses 6-7, God expounds upon who He truly is.  He had already told them through the prophet who they were – stiff-necked, stubborn, sinful rebels with whom God is justly angry.  But now, in his great, inexplicable mercy, he tells Moses who HE is:

“The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” Exodus 34:6-7

Moses agrees about who the people are in verse 8 and asks for mercy.  God gives it.

Many wrongly believe that in the Old Testament God is a different God – a God of wrath – than the God they see in the New Testament – a God of mercy.  The truth is that God is both, always.  He is just and merciful and he carries out one or the other dependant on his own choosing and sovereign will at all times in both Old and New testaments.

Here, we find that even in the very giving of the law itself, extreme grace and mercy are being displayed.  Firstly, the very giving of the law to men is grace.  The law shows us our sin that we might avoid the judgment of breaking it.  That’s grace!  Think of a government who didn’t tell you what was illegal but charged and arrested you when you broke the law!  Not so with God.  These people had repeatedly been told what God expected through their prophet Moses, it had been written down, and they had publicly agreed to keep it all the way back in chapter 24!

Secondly, when they deliberately disobeyed God, broke the promises they had made to obey, and worshiped a different false god of their own making, God gives them a good leader’s love, intercession, and earnest care to save them from the punishment they rightly deserve!  Not only that, he gives them the gift of repentance, forgives them, and gives them a brand new start!  What an amazing, merciful, grace-filled God!!!  And that’s the Old testament, folks!

If this is beginning to sound like the gospel, that’s because it is!!!  God has always be merciful and longsuffering toward a remnant of people whom he has chosen and saved through an intercessor.  If you are part of that group, thank him for not giving you what you deserve today!

 

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tent

As the remnant moved on from Mt. Sinai in the aftermath of their sin, God’s mercy finds them once again.  What an amazing God we serve!

Wherever they settled Moses would pitch a tent outside the camp and meet with God.  Moses called it the “Tent of Meeting.”  Not only Moses, but any one of the people could go out to this place and seek the Lord.  This is quite amazing because God had just told them how his presence among them, even for a moment, would rouse his anger and consume them because of their sin.  (Exodus 33:5) Yet God is full of mercy and bent on reconciliation if his people only humble themselves, repent, and seek him in prayer.

We, too, must be ready and willing to extend mercy and be bent on nothing less than reconciliation with one another after offense and injury.  This is truly how we live the gospel and glorify God among fellow sinners.  This is how we look like God; imago dei.

When Moses went to inquire of God and intercede for the people, the people would get up, stand at the doors of their tents and watch.  (Exodus 33:8) This demonstrated their willingness and interest in being made right with God after their sin.  They didn’t sleep in and let Moses worry about their standing with God.  No.  Anxiously and intently, they watched and waited for God to show up and their leader interceded on their behalf.

Likewise, we ought to learn to watch and wait on God with great respect and diligence at all times, but especially after we have fallen into sin.

Once Moses entered the Tent of Meeting, a cloud would descent and stay at the entrance of the tent.  When the cloud was present, God was speaking with Moses.  During this time, all the people would worship at their own tent doors.

When we see God moving in the life of our leaders, we, too, ought to stand, wait, and worship.

Amazingly, here, God spoke to this man, Moses, face to face.  Moses is the only person we know of that had this kind of experience with the Almighty.  Yet, today, God speaks to each and every one of his people through His Word and His Spirit if we only listen.

Moses was so concerned with listening to God that he left his apprentice at the Tent of Meeting to live just in case God spoke when he was away from the tent.

Lord, let me listen like that!  God is always speaking.  The Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets. ~Psalm 50:1  Lord, help me listen.

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prayer

The people of God have just demanded new gods.  Aaron, their surrogate leader, has just fashioned an idol – a golden calf – out of the gold the true God had given to them from the oppressive enemies – the Egyptians – he had just delivered them from.  Moses is still up on the mountain getting instructions on how to serve and worship the living God as the leader of his chosen people.  Now, God informs Moses of their disobedience in his absence.  In Exodus 32:7-14, God and Moses have a conversation about what will become of these insubordinates.

God is angry.  He has just been sold out for the inanimate gifts he gave to his people.  He tells Moses about the conspiracy and idolatry.  He says he’s going to destroy the people, exalt Moses, and make a great nation out of Moses.

This is quite an offer.  Forget those infidels, Moses.  I’m going to give them what they deserve for their foolish, purposeful disobedience.  But you are my star.  I’m going to make you great.

Moses is not interested in his own glory.  Instead of accepting this self-serving (and, likely well-deserved) offer, Moses asks God why his is mad.  (Exodus 32:11)  Well, God had just told Moses exactly why he was angry – so angry, in fact, that he was willing to annihilate all of His own people save Moses.  Moses’ question was rhetorical.  He wasn’t literally asking the reason why God was mad.  The text tells us that he was “imploring” God.  He was desperately interceding on behalf of his people – people whom, at this point, God would not even own.  In Exodus 32:7, God refers to them as “your people” meaning Moses’ people, not his own.  In turn, in 32:11, Moses returns calling them “your people” meaning God’s.  Can’t you hear Moses’ desperate plea?  These ARE your people, God!  Save them!

Moses goes on.  He pleads with God to stop being angry; to save them.

Here is a lesson for us.  We cannot save people, but we can work to win souls.  However, we cannot work to win souls with whom we are actively angry.  It is a God-like attribute to be righteously angry when people sin.  But the only way to help sinners be saved from sure destruction – the rightful penalty for their/our sin – is to turn from our anger and to intercede on their behalf; to seek to save them from being lost.  This is what Moses does; it’s what he begs God to do.  He does it by denying the opportunity God gives him for his own glory and exaltation.  I believe this shows us that we cannot have it both ways.  We cannot desire self-promotion if our heart is truly set on bringing salvation to others.  We have to pick one or the other.  God exalts the humble in due time, but our agenda cannot have both self-promotion and others’ salvation written on it together.  They are mutually exclusive goals.  Pick one.

Moses uses God’s reputation as the catalyst for answering his prayers.  What will the Egyptians think, God? What will the world think, God?  When your people die because you have destroyed them?  That’s not who YOU are, God.

We ought to follow Moses’ example.  Because it’s not about those who are in need of mercy being deserving – none of us ever are.  It’s about the character, reputation, and integrity of the one giving mercy to the underserved.  We must turn from our own righteous anger over other men’s sins for the sake of our own good name.  We must intercede for them and implore God’s mercy on the unrighteous for the sake of his glory, not theirs.  And we, like Moses, must consider their salvation as of greater worth than our own advancement.  This is how a humble person leads.

Moses wasn’t looking out for number one.  Moses was always most concerned with God’s people and their welfare.  Matthew Henry says of him, “Had Moses been of a narrow, selfish spirit, he would have closed with this offer; but he prefers the salvation of Israel before the advancement of his own family.  Here was a man fit to be a governor.”

Because of Moses’ righteous actions in the face of others’ unrighteous actions, God had mercy on the unrighteous.  Let the same be said of us.

“And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.” ~Exodus 32:14

 

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calf

Picture this: You were born a slave.  You had been told that a deliverer was coming.  Hundreds of years had gone by with no deliverance.  But, in your lifetime, he comes.  He does the signs and wonders of God and rescues you out of bondage and slavery.  He leads you, by the hand of your God’s leading, into the desert wilderness where further instructions are being given.  You’ve already been given many miraculous signs, bread from heaven, water from a rock, a leading cloud and a leading fire to guide you each and every day, and you are awaiting the man who delivered you from slavery.  He’s up on a mountain speaking with God.  You can see the huge cloud that he has been drawn into.  Before he went up, you saw thunder, lightning, and audibly heard the voice of God from heaven.  This is where the Israelites are when Exodus chapter 32 happens.  Take some time and consider their history before reading this chapter.

In Exodus 32, these people of God gather themselves together because they are getting impatient.  They still see the cloud.  They know Moses has left his brother, Aaron, in charge and told them to wait for further instructions.  But they are tired of waiting.  Too many days have passed and they’re restless.  So they get together and go to Aaron and demand that he make them some new gods to lead them.

When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” ~Exodus 32:1

They’re like, “Hey boss.  Make some new gods.  The one we got isn’t doing what we want.”

How familiar is that?  Hey, God.  Be a different god.  Be a god that does whatever I want.

There are a lot of “Christians” who treat their religion just like these people did.  It’s not God they want to serve, it’s themselves.  So they twist him and the scriptures into whatever it is they prefer.  Worse still, there are leaders who comply and compromise to their every demand in order to “keep peace” or stay comfortable. Unfortunately, this is what Moses’s brother Aaron did.

Aaron, their surrogate leader in Moses’s absence, did not even blink before acquiescing to their demand.  They say, “Do this!” Aaron says, “No problem.”

Aaron instructs the people who are demanding new gods to remove their gold jewelry and bring it to him.  Where did they get all this gold, though?  Weren’t they slaves?  Oh, that’s right, God had their oppressors give them all the gold in Egypt when he delivered them.  Now, they’re giving it away to make new gods in his place.  How many blessings do we forfeit out of our unfaithful demands and sinful actions?

So Aaron “fashions” a golden calf with a special tool.  He later lies (Exodus 32:24) and says the calf just somehow appeared out of the fire when they put the gold in.  But consider first what the people said after Aaron makes the calf:

And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” ~Exodus 32:5

What?!  These are your gods?!  No, this was melted down gold chiseled out by a man to look like a cow.  This inanimate object never did anything, yet they credit it with leading them out of Egypt – the very thing their REAL God did.  All the while, their surrogate leader is pretending it was for the Lord – in his honor!  What?!

This is complete insanity.  Let me say that again.  THIS IS COMPLETE INSANITY.  This is complete insanity especially considering that God was up there at this very same time with Moses calling Aaron to the very highest honor among his people – the high priest.  It really makes you wonder why on earth God chose Aaron at all.  As God is choosing Aaron to be the very first high priest, Aaron is obeying evil commands from his subordinates, building an idol for them with his own hands, worshiping the idol with them, and pretending the whole charade is in honor of the Lord.  Then, he’s eating, drinking – partying! – and “playing” as if it’s a wonderful, celebratory time.  And, if we look ahead just a few verses, we find him lying about the whole thing.

This is a man who has just forsaken the true God for idols, forsaken his brother, forsaken his charge over the people of God, forsaken the spiritual welfare of the people God had given him responsibility over – his own people to boot – and all for what?

Perhaps he saw how they’d grumbled against Moses when he didn’t go along with their demands.  Maybe he wanted to be popular and well-liked.  Maybe he was afraid of the people.  Whatever his reasons, this man whom God is rising up for even greater honor in leadership is a man of complete compromise at this point in his life.

And maybe God would have it that way to show Aaron the depth of his own sin prior to exalting him to the position of high priest so that he might be sufficiently humbled as preparation beforehand.  I don’t know for sure but what I do know is that God’s ways are not our ways.  I wouldn’t have picked this guy to be the trash collector in the temple, let alone the high priest.  He cowardly gave in to his subordinates’ idolatrous demands.  He participated in their sin to the point of enabling and providing for it.  He pretended to be using the sin he was committing as worship to the Lord.  He celebrated when he should have been mourning.  He forsook God, his own brother, and his people.  He was greatly unfaithful to the position he had already been given by God.  He lied to protect himself from accountability and responsibility when he was caught in the act.  This is not a man I would trust!!! Or choose!  Or submit to as my leader!  No stinking way!!!

But God chose him.  Moses forgave and interceded for him despite his righteous anger over his brother’s sin and failure.  And God had mercy.  He allowed Aaron and his sons to repent and still made them priests.

In my flesh and in my disgust over Aaron’s unfaithfulness I want the moral of the story to be, “Don’t trust crappy leaders,” or “Tie cowards and compromisers up by their underpants and place them in the public square for a few days.”  But that’s not the lesson for me in this passage.  The moral of this story is, “God had mercy.”  God has mercy.  And it’s not just for me and those who haven’t hurt me or other people when we fail.  It’s for everyone who repents – even cowardly, compromising, idolatrous, unfaithful, betraying, deceitful leaders over God’s people.

This is a hard lesson for me because so many of exactly those kind of men have deeply hurt me personally.  But God has mercy.  I forgive them.  Let us love like God when men fail us in every way imaginable.  Amen.

 

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remember

After God instructs Moses on who will be the priests and the high priest, he describes in detail what they were to wear.  Let us consider these things and their significance.

First, the ephod is elaborated upon.  the ephod was a sleeveless linen garment which had fine thread, and, in the case of the high priest, had even gold woven into it.  It covered the chest to the hips and had two shoulder straps with an onyx stone on each side.  The stones were to have the names of all the sons of Israel engraved upon them.  Six tribes were to be written on one stone; six on the other.  These were called the “stones of remembrance.”  The settings were to be made of gold attached by corded golden chains.

Over the top of the ephod, a breastpiece was to be worn.  It was a folded piece of fabric which contained twelve precious stones – one for each tribe’s name.  Also, the urim and thummim – which were some type of spiritual help for decision making – were to be placed inside.  The high priest was to fasten this garment overtop of his ephod by way of golden cords, golden rings, and golden settings that he might have always the names of God’s people upon his heart.  Exodus 28:30 says this:

“And in the breastpiece of judgment you shall put the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be on Aaron’s heart, when he goes in before the Lord. Thus Aaron shall bear the judgment of the people of Israel on his heart before the Lord regularly.”

In all of these instructions, one beautiful theme shines through: God remembering his people; God taking great pains to insure that his people know and understand their worth and importance to him; God writing their names on the heart of their intercessor – the high priest; God preparing his people to be the honored guests in his house.

This is such a beautiful illustration and example of God’s love and mercy for his people.  When we study this passage, and recognize the magnitude of God’s love and mercy toward us, it makes what we know about those he was choosing all the more tragic.  When the reality of this passage hit me, it literally broke my heart for God.  Here’s why:

Here, while God is instructing his prophet about the honor and beauty and glory he is about to bestow on his chosen ones, writing their names on his very heart and taking special and great pains to remember them and make sure they know how loved and remembered they are, they themselves are forgetting him.  It was during this very time that Aaron – the high priest God chose – was leading the people in the worship of an idol: the golden calf.  While Moses is receiving this instruction about how much God longs to remember his people, Aaron is forgetting Him.  Aaron is assuming and presuming that God has forgotten them.

Consider that.  Consider that God was fitting to give Aaron not only the priesthood and make him the high priest – a place of great honor, God was also preparing to give him much gold to wear in honor of Him.  Aaron chose to worship a gift (gold) that God was planning to give him particularly in abundance in place of worshiping the God who was giving it.  In other words, God is up there giving these instructions to bless and honor these men with Aaron as the most honored and they are building an idol out of the very material that God wishes to use to honor them.  Aaron – the would-be high priest is leading the charge.

God had planned to write their names on the most precious stones known to man – to have the intercessor hold them on his very heart and they thought he had forgotten them.  They were in direct rebellion to God as he planned to honor and extend mercy to them.  This is the kind of God we serve.  This is the kind of people we are.  It is heartbreaking when we recognize how good and loving Our Father is as opposed to how foolish and disobedient we are.

Herein we realize how important it is to have an intercessor.  God said that Aaron would bear the judgement of Israel on his heart before the Lord regularly.  This is the job of every minister who would intercede for God’s people.  Judgement is bore on our hearts because when the judgement of another is placed upon your heart, you are not vindictive and smug about the discipline needed, rather, you are broken and sorrowful -just as the Father is – when discipline for others is necessary.  By bearing judgement on our hearts, we feel the pain of their disobedience and mourn for their repentance rather than happily, vengefully attesting to the fact that they will get what they deserve.

Aaron was our first high priest; Christ is our last.  Never, ever think he has forgotten you.  Your name is written on his hands and his heart.

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KJV_Exodus_27-20

In Exodus 27 Moses was instructed on the making of the altar, the court, and the provision of the oil for the lamps within the tabernacle.

Firstly, there was an altar that was to be built outside the tabernacle and placed in the outer court.  It was to be made of wood and overlaid with bronze.  This altar was to have four bronze horns placed – one on each corner.

The bronze altar was a place of sacrifice, of safety, and of change.  The altar was a place of sacrifice because this is where the unblemished animals were brought and burned as an offering to God.  It was a place of safety because anyone who was ring pursued by justice could come lay hold of these horns and cling to them for refuge.  No one could administer justice or punishment while a sinner clung to these horns.  And it was a place of change because it was where justice was served to innocent animals and mercy was given to guilty men.  One went from being innocent and unblemished to bearing guilt and death.  The other went from being guilty and pursued by wrath and justice to safe and alive.  The altar was a picture of Christ, his innocence, his death, and God’s wrath poured out on him which, in turn, provided a place of mercy and refuge for us.

Consequently, when entering a place of worship, which this court was indeed, we all must fly to the altar for mercy.  We must undergo a drastic change from death to life on the basis of the sacrifice made by another.  Afterward, we must begin a life like unto our sacrificial Lamb where we are willing to die to ourselves that we might live for God.

The altar was positioned in such a way that it was the “first stop” and the central item upon entering the court in front of the tabernacle.  In this court was where the worshipers would gather.  This area was a type of church where men would come in out of the world and be separated for a time in honor and praise of God.  The pillars were indicative of stability and safety for the sinner who would run into the house of God and stay close to Him.  Note, the church should always be a safe place for God’s children.

Finally, the Lord instructed Moses on the oil that was to be brought for the golden lampstand.  This was the only source of light within the tabernacle.  The people were responsible to provide and bring the oil for the lamp.  The priests were to make sure that the light never went out.  They had to attend the lamp day and night.  Likewise, we are to bring our spiritual gifts and talents given to us by God into his house and keep the light of the gospel lit by their constant use.  Without our preparedness and willingness to give of ourselves, darkness will inevitably fall upon God’s house and light of the gospel will not be seen.  The pastors and leaders of our day are to act as the priests did in fanning the flame and encouraging our gifts and abilities that we might be even better equipped and of good use within God’s house and in the world.  Day and night the priests were to tend to this lamp, and day and night the leadership of God’s church has been given the responsibility to tend to all that would give light to His truth – that is – tend diligently and constantly to His people that they might shine and be of good use for God’s ultimate glory.

Let us not forget that making, obtaining, and offering the olive oil for the lamp was not a quick and easy job, either.  The olives had to be grown, harvested, pressed, and squeezed in order to obtain the oil.  Then, it had to be brought to the Tent of Meeting.  In the same way, our gifts and talents must be recognized, grown, honed, and practiced diligently for some time before we can gain a harvest and offer fitting and proper provision with them within God’s church.  Thank God for those who equip, inspire, and encourage others to use the gifts God has given to each of His people!

This is a skeleton outline of how a Christian life should progress.  We begin needing mercy.  When wrath and justice pursue, we fly to the altar for mercy and there we learn to follow Our Savior’s example of sacrificial dying for the good of ourselves and others.  After our change from death to life and back to death, we worship him in his courts with thanksgiving.  Finally, we bring gifts into God’s house that would be useful to His kingdom so that others may see the light of the gospel. What a beautiful picture!

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