November 7, 2011

Today you should read: Exodus 29

“We believe therefore we do.”

This is a concept that I think about often. I’m a very curious person by nature and over the past couple of years, I have been asking this question: What makes us act? For instance, why do children scream at the top of their lungs at the grocery store over a box of cereal? Why do we put money into a retirement fund? Why do we shake hands in our culture when other cultures bow to each other? The answer that I have found is, that in all these scenarios, faith in a desirable outcome is the common factor. The child believes that they will receive the cereal, we believe that the retirement fund will offer security, and the hand shake in our culture shows respect keeping us in the social norms. I would even venture to say that we do nothing apart from our faith. So the real question is this: What is our faith in?

Our current passage focuses in on the sacrificial system of the Levitical priesthood. More specifically, it sets up how a priest becomes consecrated for service. This is the time period before Christ, thus atonement for sin was given through the blood sacrifices of animals. We know now as we read the passage retrospectively that these sacrifices were pointing to the ultimate atonement for sin through the blood of Christ. However, in the law given to Moses, which is given in detail in the book of Leviticus, God is very detailed in how to go about making sacrifices to him. Why? We see the answer clearly in Leviticus 19:2:

“Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.”

So why did they do this? To make themselves holy so that God could dwell among the Israelites. God is holy and atonement had to be made for sin before He could enter into their presence or they would have died. Ex. Leviticus 15:31:

“Thus you shall keep the people of Israel separate from their uncleanness, lest they die in their uncleanness by defiling my tabernacle that is in their midst.”

Did this mean that the sacrifices made them sinless? Of course not, but their faith is what justified them. I submit to you that the Israelites would not keep the law if they did not have faith that God is who he says he is. To prove my point, continue reading through the Old Testament and you will see how the Israelites turned away from God and the judgement that was bestowed upon them because of their unbelief. In other words, as they believed they acted.

The same is true for us. I challenge each of us to search our hearts and ask the “Why” questions:

Why do I do what I do?
Why do I go to church?
Why do I read my Bible?
Why do I call myself a Christian?

Is it because of the social status among peers? Maybe to be viewed as a good person? I hope that the answer for each of us is that, without Christ, we deserve wrath in Hell because of our sin. Jesus himself came as the God-man to live perfectly in our place and take the wrath we deserved on the cross. Through belief in Jesus as our Lord, we are graciously saved and reconciled back into a relationship with the God of the universe.

Any other motivation will lead to Hell, no matter how good the action looks.

Posted by: Chad Wiles

November 5, 2011

Today you should read: Exodus 28

As the high priest, Aaron’s garments had to be perfect. They had to be exactly as God commanded them. Can you imagine having that kind of dress code at your job? You get hired and your boss says, “by the way, if you don’t wear a suit and tie, neatly pressed, you will die.” Yikes! So, why was God so particular about the priests’ garments? What’s the big deal about what they are wearing? God cares about details. He is not a happy-go-lucky God who just lets anything fly. He has standards, perfect standards that He demands be met. The high priest was representative of the people of Israel so many of his proper attire before God was significant.

The high priest was also a picture of Jesus, a representative on behalf of the people. Now, Jesus is the ultimate representative for all humanity to God. We also see that Aaron held the people close to his heart physically with his garment ornaments while Jesus holds us in His heart as He intercedes for us to God in heaven.

We could talk about many more references to Jesus in this passage (see below for a website link for further study), but the most striking parallel is that of Aaron who interceded for Israel and made atonement for their sins. Jesus did this once and for all on the cross and now acts as our High Priest forever (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 2:17, 7:17). He was perfect in every way and never sinned but always did the will of the Father (John 5:19). So, it makes sense that someone who is holding Jesus’ place and fulfilling His role until He comes would need to be clothed perfectly and follow God’s exact commands and steps. Those are impossible shoes to fill.

Praise God today that we have a High Priest forever in Jesus who is clothed even more perfectly than Aaron. We have a High Priest who is adorned with perfect righteousness and divinity. If you wish to study more about Jesus as our High Priest, a great place to start would be the book of Hebrews.

Here’s a good Bible History article on the subject.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

November 4, 2011

Today you should read: Exodus 27

God is serious about our worship.

God takes our worship very seriously. This whole chapter (and many more in the Bible) are devoted to specific instructions about worship. He expects us to do it His way. Remember what happened to Cain when he decided to worship God in his own way rather than through God’s prescribed instructions? God rejected his offering (Genesis 4).

“These people honor me with their lips, 
but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain…” Matthew 15:8-9a

Worship in the 21st century church is predominately about us. We want our style, our songs, our band… but since when has worship been about us? Who are we worshiping anyway? God or ourselves? Shouldn’t the question be, “What does He want”? That question is easy to answer: He wants our hearts. He wants us to worship Him from a pure heart.

A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24

Spend a few minutes today and evaluate your heart of worship. What is it really about for you? Is your heart pure, focused on Him alone? Then confess whatever you need to and start over with a true heart of worship. I want you to listen to this song today as a part of JumpStart. It’s familiar – but listen with new ears.

Posted by: Tim Parsons

November 3, 2011

Today you should read: Exodus 26

God is to be worshiped on His terms. That’s the theme of this section of Exodus as well as a central theme to the entirety of scripture.

When reading Exodus 26, it’s easy to get lost in the awe-inspiring details. I am sure that you could hardly control your excitement with all the bronze, yarn, acacia wood, pillars, curtains, and my personal favorite… goat’s hair! Yes, I am being sarcastic, that is, unless you are an interior decorator, in which case this became your favorite Bible passage.

But all kidding aside, we don’t understand the beauty of the tabernacle because we’ve never experienced it in its full glory. One day, though, we will experience a much greater tabernacle in heaven. The Bible tells us in Hebrews that the tabernacle mentioned in Exodus 26 was just a prototype of what God has in heaven.

The importance of today’s reading isn’t the detail of the tabernacle. Don’t miss the forest for the trees. The significance is found in the fact that God is to be worshiped on His terms. These details, which seem overbearing for us, remind us that God is particular about His people’s devotion to Him. Every intricate detail of the design had purpose: to glorify God how God wanted to be glorified.

God gave the Israelites a blueprint which, while lengthy and comprehensive, made it clear to them as to what He wanted. In the same way, the Lord has given us His word as a blueprint for obedience and faith. He has made it clear that He desires for us to worship Him on His terms, for He is a jealous God (cf. Exodus 20). The Bible teaches us that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit now, and with the design of this tabernacle in mind, I’d like to pose a few questions:

1) How would you describe your life: are you carefully adorned by God’s Word and God’s Spirit for worship and obedience? Or are you recklessly living a life of idolatry yet call yourself a Christ-follower (2 Kings 17:33)?

2) What needs to change in your life for you to look more like a intricately-crafted tabernacle of worship?

3) Have you been following God on your terms or His?

4) Has God called you to follow Him in obedience in a specific area of your life (evangelism, sin issue, ministry)? What is it and what has held you back from obeying?

CPC, we love you deeply. Our prayer for you today is that you would lay your desires and will down and simply pursue Christ in every aspect of your day.

Posted by: Todd Thomas