|OH, REALLY? … I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.|
Saturday, February 28, 2015
Exodus 32, Part II, 28 February 2015 Anno Domini
15 And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written. 16 And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables. (Ex 32:15-16)
What solemnly grave and profound words are these in verses 15 and 16! These were written by the very hand of God and represent fully His perfect will. It is best that we remember that each word of the Holy Bible is also His words as if written by His own hand – they are providentially and perfectly preserved by god in every language of mankind. But only God Himself is Author of Law and Justice. Only He is able to write, at first, His Law on Tables of Stones; and, later, on the fleshly chambers of the human heart: For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.” (Heb 8:10) Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. (2 Cor 3:3) I hasten to add that this writing is made with the ink of Love and not legal constraint.
Moses has been warned of God of the evil that is taking place in the camp of the Children of Israel. It must have been a rare ecstasy that Moses experienced on the Mount on the presence of the Lord – a quiet and spiritual ecstasy, not the babbling ecstasy professed by the charismatic clan. There are mountaintop experiences to which every Christian can hail back. But we cannot forever remain on the mountaintop else we may become so heavenly inclined that we are no earthly good. The times come when we must return to the valley where the world of sin suffers in bondage to Satan. “And Moses turned, and went down from the mount.” After a face-to-face encounter with God, there is always a need to put the spiritual truths learned to use among those who perish.
“. . . the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written.” There seems to have been two tables of the law with the Commandments written on either side so that they could have been read from all directions. Whether our vantage point is of the East or the West, we read the same Law. In Christ, culture is not a reason to miss the Law. As Moses descended from the Mount, the discordant sounds of the Camp came to his ears. The voice of the world is always warlike when contrasted with the infallible Word of God. “And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp.” (Ex 32:17) Joshua was such a devoted disciple of God that he waited the forty days and forty nights halfway up the Mount. His faithful ears must have been anguished by the noise he had heard arising from the Camp. How soon can the piety of good people be turned to orgy even in our modern churches! Churches in America that once were intolerant of open sin, now call evil good, and good evil in conformity with the prophecy of Isaiah: Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20) When I was a child, the term ‘homosexuality’ was a filthy joke. Now it is heralded as dignified alternative to Godly marriage – what wicked insanity!
The example that Joshua sets in His faithfulness is not unlike that of the faithful and persevering servant of God who may not be privileged to be called to Holy Orders, but rather serves God with the fullness of his being.
And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear. (Ex 32:18) Moses knew that it was not the sound of conventional war, but another kind of war – spiritual warfare fanned by inordinate desires of the flesh. God had already informed Moses of what was taking place. This song was a great contrast to that the people sang with Moses in Exodus 15. It might be compared the church singing “I Surrender ALL” on Sunday and living a life of impurity throughout the week.
And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount. (Ex 32:19) The closer one gets to the world, the more of its evil can be seen. Some have said as a matter of trivia, including myself, that Moses was first to break all of the Commandments. In fact, I do not believe Moses broke the Law of God, but acted out of righteous indignation. It was, doubtless, symbolic of the anger of God. Today, I see too little of righteous indignation among Christians, especially clergymen, at the wicked and blasphemous nature of the world today. God does not frankly condemn anger. He would most likely be disappointed that we would not be angry at the murder, rape, and pillage occurring today in Syria and Iraq, or the sadistic abuse of little children at all levels of modern society. We have reached a point in the modern church in which judgment against sin is classified as wicked, and anger of any type is condemned. But Jesus tells us the anger, based on sound reason, is appropriate. “But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment:” (Matt 5:22)
And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it. (Ex 32:20) What a judgmental act of Moses! But one which was TOTALLY justified! Many of my Korean Christian friends who converted to Christ from Buddhism take their old idols of Buddha and burn them in fire until only ashes remain. If only desires and attitudes of our time could be ground down and burned in the flames of God’s righteous wrath.
How often do ministers who ought to know better allow themselves to be led away in bondage of sin by influential members of the church! And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them? (Ex 32:21) What is your own price for compromise – do you have one? Aaron was left in charge just as today’s clergy are left to stand up for Christ. He was doubtless moved by the emotion of pride when he would be able to satisfy the desires of ALL the people. Some today are still trying to satisfy ALL the people by being “all things to all men.”
And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief. For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf. (Ex 32:22-24) This excuse is quite familiar to us if we remember our excuses to mom over the cookie jar, but totally inappropriate for a grown-up man of God. The Cloud of the Lord was even still visible atop Sinai, yet these people wanted little man-made gods to lead them back to the bondage of Egypt. How disgusting! Aaron did not even offer a word of objection or of explanation as to why the desires of the people were wrong. Instead of objecting to their desires, he submits to their godless intentions. Can you imagine casting into a fire a great mass of gold and out of that fire a molten calf emerges? Is this the first example of evolution? Of course, evolution is even more ridiculous. At least the calf was not alive, but the evolutionists believe life was formed from masses of hot gas and an amalgamation of chemicals. I believe I can figure out the source of the hot gases.
And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies: (Ex 32:25) Not only were they naked in physical appearance, but also naked to the judgment of God. Was Moses at fault for pronouncing judgment against these hellions? Not at all, because it was the clear judgment of God. When we use God’s word to judge sin, it is not our own judgment we use, but God’s.
Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD'S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour. And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men. For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves to day to the LORD, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day. (Ex 32:26-29) On this day the curse of Genesis 49:7 against the Levites was broken on their stand for God. “Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.” Now they will be dispersed among the tribes of Israel for God’s purpose and not as a punishment. If any considers this an ancient and hard cruel punishment, they would be wrong, for god will bring an even greater punishment on unbelievers at the Last Day at the return of the Lord.
There are types and figures of Christ in the Old Testament, yet none are perfect types. All are as inferior to Christ as mud is to Gold. Moses here takes on an aura of the type of Christ: And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the LORD; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin. And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. (Ex 32:30-32) Moses is willing to die for his people just as Christ died for us; however, Moses could only offer to die for their physical lives. Christ died for our eternal lives. God now says that Moses cannot die for the people for such issues are left to God alone. And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. (Ex 32:33) That would include you and me were it not for the shed blood of Christ!
Now here is a cardinal lesson to man: God does not change His plans due to the failures and wickedness of man. Man simply suffers loss after loss until he awakens to the obedience required to God. Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them. (Ex 32:34) Judgment belongs to the Lord, and He will surely execute judgment against those who are disobedient. God tells Moses to continue in the calling God as ordained him to follow. We may become discouraged and even angry at the disloyalty of our Christian friends, but God commands that we continue on the path He has set our feet and continue in the way He leads. His Angel will lead the faithful minister and Christian. God does not forget unrepented sin. In due time, He will visit the sins of the people upon their heads. And the LORD plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made. (Ex 32:35)
Our churches today have turned themselves into centers of entertainment and sin. Do we suppose that God will not visit their sins upon them and their nation?
Thursday, February 26, 2015
|We wot not…|
1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. (Ex 32:1)
How frail is the memory of men who have been saved and richly blessed by the Lord. God, throughout His Word, cautions us to REMEMBER, but we cannot seem to endure a fortnight before our lapses in memory and devotion overwhelm us. Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten. This day came ye out in the month Abib. And it shall be when the LORD shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee, a land flowing with milk and honey, that thou shalt keep this service in this month. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and in the seventh day shall be a feast to the LORD. Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days; and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee, neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters. And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which the LORD did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt. And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the LORD'S law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt. (Ex 13:3-9)
Those of us who vainly devise New Year’s resolutions will know how long their memories lasted in keeping those. These Children of Israel have seen more miracles than any others in biblical history – they have seen the seas parted and Pharaoh’s army drowned; they have seen the Pillar of Fire by night and Cloud by Day that both led and followed them; they have witnessed the miraculous supply of water from the cleft Rock; they have seen the Manna come down from Heaven for their food; and they have seen the mighty thundering and smoky cloud from the heights of Sinai; - yet, they have forgotten those wonders and gone a’whoring after other gods of wood, stone, and precious metal.
They do not know what has happened to Moses? Really? He is still in the smoke covered mountain as before. It seems that these profane men could not wait until their Godly leader was away until they resorted to idolatry. All of their needs have been provided by the Lord. They have not dug wells or sown for the harvest, yet their thirsts are quenched with the living waters from the Rock of Mount Horeb, and their stomachs are filled with the Manna God has sent. This reminds me of modern America in which men eat without labor, and drink without cost. Such conditions lead to boredom. The people, rather than being faithful in remembering the God of blessings, have become bored and listless. They want little hand-crafted gods instead of the God of Heaven and Earth. How shameful! Have we not become so today? Who will take time to attend worship, to study the Holy Bible and pray when they could, instead, be engaged in some computer or internet game on their iPod? Even young people who do attend church often carry their little gods with them and hear little of Scripture reading.
One man can stand on truth and rout a thousand, but error requires a mob to get its way. Note that the people “gathered themselves together” before Aaron. Evil desires company. God had covenanted to live among them, yet they cast God out from among them. This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us: To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. (Acts 7:38-40) Like most unrepentant sinners, they desired the bondage of Egypt more than the Liberty of the Lord.
And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. (Ex 32:1-4) Even among the depraved of Egypt, it was not customary for men or boys to wear earrings (representing bondage), but the children of Israel had become soft and inclined to fashions that were ungodly. Aaron, rather than standing on Godly courage, was intimidated (perhaps) by the gathering and agreed to perform their desires. He would have made a fantastic US Senator of today with his compromising personality. There is no greater blasphemy than that which attributes the works of God to other so-called gods. These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD. And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. (Ex 32:5-6) It is tragic to learn that the man who was destined to become the priest of the Tabernacle would sink to such depths. They did have a feast day, but not to the Lord – it was to their false gods which their hands had fashioned. They “rose up to play,” i.e., to engage in shameful and riotous acts of depravity. But the Lord knows when a people have turned their hearts against Him. He may already be considering a judgment against nations who do. One point that is a warning to us today is that we do not partake of the Lord’s Supper unworthily.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: (Ex 32:7-9) The pure conscience of God is incensed at the idolatry of His people. It is much like an honorable young gentleman who gets engaged to the love of his life one day, and the next discovers that his betrothed has committed adultery with men of the street. Notice, too, that God says that these people had “turned aside quickly.” REMEMBER, we must persevere to the end. Though the first step to godliness begins a journey of one thousand miles, the last must also be taken to complete the journey.
God speaks to Moses: Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation. (Ex 32:10) God has no intention of changing His mind about the promises He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; His words are intended to instill an even greater intercessory spirit in the heart of Moses, His servant. Additionally, His comments are probably intended to evoke a fear in the people of Israel concerning their apostasy. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Notice the effect of God’s Words on Moses: And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. (Ex 32:11-12) This intercession of Moses on behalf of his erring people is a good example of the intercessory work of the Lord Jesus Christ on behalf of us today.
Now see that Moses has the temerity to ask God to REMEMBER! Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever. (Ex 32:13) In our own prayers, I believe the Lord likes to be reminded of His promises to us – not because He may forget, but because it reveals our own sound memory of them. Another point that is about to be revealed is this: the Lord hears and answers prayers that it is already His will to grant – in fact, the Lord loves such prayers. See the next verse: And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people. (Ex 32:14) Had Moses prayed for a result that was out of the character of God to grant, the result would have been different. There are two principle reasons that our prayers go unanswered: If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: (Psalms 66:18) When we pray to God, we must clear our hearts of all resentment and hate, and ask in faith. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (James 4:3) Asking God for blessings out of a selfish or covetous heart will never be granted.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: 3 And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, 4 To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, 5 And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship. (Ex 31:1-5)
We have been studying the design and features of the Wilderness Tabernacle as given to Moses by God. For every convention of worship for the people of God, His ministers must be duly equipped, called, and installed as such. In our opening five verses of this chapter, there is much that may miss the observation of the casual reader. Of course, no serious student of God’s Word should ever take that Word in an attitude of casual abandon. Every Word is tried as silver in the Refiner’s furnace seven times.
The principles enunciated, I believe prophetically, in these five verses inform us that God calls His true ministers (no a vocational choice) to the duties that He peculiarly prepares them to perform. Such as are called are filled with wisdom (which they only acquire from a diligent study of the Word), and a deeper understanding of the works of God are correlated over the spectrum of time and \eternity. In the case of the Tabernacle, a man gifted with specific skills is required to both build, and supervise the building, of the Tabernacle. So God always finds His man of whom He has known and prepared from the very first. Bezaleel (meaning in the shadow, or under the protection, of God) may have had no prior suggestion of his calling until the time was ripe in the eyes of the Lord. I believe that a man called of God may lack a full knowledge of the purposes of his calling until God reveals them at the proper time. When Charles Spurgeon took shelter from a terrific thunderstorm one night in a small country chapel, he probably had no clue that he would be led to Christ by a barely literate old deacon, and would leave that chapel as Charles Spurgeon the soon-to-be minster, and not Charles Spurgeon, the lost lad.
At the very outset, let me aver that no man is worthy of the call to the ministry. In fact, none of us – lay or clergy – are worthy the call to be a Christian. So how is it possible for even a profane and drunken sea captain such as John Newton to answer the call of God to the ministry? I believe it is due to a growing and gnawing unrest in the soul to obey the small, still voice that persistently nags at his heart. If disregarded, it grows to the point of a painful roar that can no longer be ignored, and the man succumbs to the call. Though no man is worthy, God will make such a man worthy by the imputed righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ to serve in the Lord’s Holy Work. God has even reached down to the vile reprobate on skid row to issue His call to orders. Such men of low estate may amazingly rise to the top rung on the ministerial ladder when they have become humble clay in the hands of the potter. Their love for God is multiplied by the level of decadence of their previous state just as the woman of questionable repute ministered to Jesus at the house of Simon: Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. (Luke 7:44-47)
The calling of a man to the ministry is an unfolding call that spreads from the called clergyman, to his aides in the ministry, and then to the laity at large who are called with equal force to execute the Words of the Lord in His Kingdom. This is illustrated in the next several verse: “6 And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee; 7 The tabernacle of the congregation, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is thereupon, and all the furniture of the tabernacle, 8 And the table and his furniture, and the pure candlestick with all his furniture, and the altar of incense, 9 And the altar of burnt offering with all his furniture, and the laver and his foot, 10 And the cloths of service, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest's office, 11 And the anointing oil, and sweet incense for the holy place: according to all that I have commanded thee shall they do.” (Ex 31:6-11)
There is no more effective means of learning than that which we call ‘experiential.’ This is the strength of traditional Anglican worship. It is participatory! All present have a voice in the prayers and responses of the Prayer Book. There was a time when each worshipper, coming newly as a child (or an adult convert), stumbled and stammered at the majestic language of the Prayer Book forms, or the reading of the King James Bible; but, hearing the words read over and over, their vocabulary became subconsciously elevated to the grandeur that God deserves in His people. It was an experiential learning that a young child, sitting beside his father and mother at worship, Sunday after Sunday, learns, absorbs, and internalizes over the years of development.
You will note in the above verses that much of the work, though led by a called minister, is accomplished by many hands of the congregation. The women will weave and embroider the vails and curtains of fine silk and wool; the men will perform the heavy tasks of smelting and forming the metal for the altars and Laver, etc. Each member of the Body of Christ has a role to play, and each is important.
12 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 13 Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you. (Ex 31:12-13) God reinforces His Commandment to keep the Sabbaths Holy. Was this to serve as a sign to those outside that these were the people of God? Not at all! This was not the salient purpose for observing the Sabbaths. That purpose is given in the text itself! “that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.” Being holy ourselves in obeying the Commandments of God does nothing for the souls of those without the camp, but it does have an educating and spiritual impact on our own souls in knowing God and drawing nearer to Him.
14 Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. 15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. (Ex 31:14-15) Does the sentence of death seem harsh for violation of the Sabbath? It is not, for without obedience to God, we all deserve death and, in fact, are dead in trespasses and sins already. (Ephesians 2) The temporal observance of the Lord’s Day (Sunday) as a day of rest and worship carries on the physical benefits of the Sabbath observance; but the spiritual observance of the Sabbath was not annulled by Christ, but made more compelling since every day is a Sabbath rest for the Christian who allows all of his works to be those of Christ working in our members.
When I check my Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, I discover that the word, perpetual, is not time dated. I am told that it means “continuing forever.” “16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.” (Ex 31:16) Jesus did not cancel a single jot or tittle from the Law, but to fulfill that Law. He made the law more stringent spiritually since a law obeyed with reservation is not spiritually beneficial. Not only do we not physically commit adultery, but Christ tells us that even the desire is the same as the act. The same goes for hatred and murder. Our spiritual Sabbath is daily!
We are not saved by our perfect obedience to God, since no man is without sin; but we are definitely saved unto good works that give evidence of our salvation once we have committed our souls to Him. “17 It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” (Ex 31:17) Our good works after grace give evidence of that grace.
18 And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God. (Ex 31:18) Of what vital importance to our souls is a thing written with the very Finger of God! How many recorded times do we observe that the Lord wrote with His Finger? Can you answer without looking to the end of this devotion?
God has written with His Finger FIVE times according to Scripture. He writes upon the two tables of stone here in Exodus 31:18; again He restores His Law on Tables of stone (that Moses had broken) in Exodus 34:28; again in Daniel 5:5; and twice in the Gospel of St John 8:6 & 8.When God writes with His very Finger, we had best take notice just as did the accusers of the woman taken in adultery. Of course, His Immutable and Eternal Word is written by the hand of His scribes at His very command, and, therefore, carries equal weight.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
Our Lord began His earthly ministry with a fast following the joyful occasion of His baptism at which the entirety of the Holy Trinity was present – Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The Spirit drove Jesus into the Wilderness to be tempted of the Devil. It was not until Jesus was at His most vulnerable moment of fasting (the fortieth day) that Satan came to Him with His temptations. Satan is not omniscient, but he does observe us and marks our weaknesses and weak moments. It is Satan who chooses the battlefield to war against us. He almost always seeks to take the high ground by quoting Scripture, but he quotes it always with some deceitful play on words.
The lyrics to this Lenten hymn were written by George Hunt Smyttan (1822-1870), and published in 1856. The primary tune is Aus der Tiefe rufe ich (Heinlein) (Nürnbergisches Gesangbuch, 1676, attributed to Martin Herbst, 1654-1681) – taken from the Hymnal 1940 Companion.
Forty Days and Forty Nights
Forty days and forty nights
thou wast fasting in the wild;
forty days and forty nights
tempted, and yet undefiled.
Should not we thy sorrow share
and from worldly joys abstain,
fasting with unceasing prayer,
strong with thee to suffer pain?
Then if Satan on us press,
Jesus, Savior, hear our call!
Victor in the wilderness,
grant we may not faint or fall!
So shall we have peace divine:
holier gladness ours shall be;
round us, too, shall angels shine,
such as ministered to thee.
Keep, O keep us, Savior dear,
ever constant by thy side;
that we thee we may appear
at the eternal Eastertide.
Our Lord came to satisfy every demand of the Law and of example. He would experience a greater temptation and suffering than those for whom He came to save. Fasting in the Wilderness for forty days and nights would have worked a great want in His physical body, and a great loneliness in His soul. He no doubt resorted to continual prayer in communion with the Father. “Forty days and forty nights thou wast fasting in the wild; forty days and forty nights tempted, and yet undefiled.” Christ came as our Ensign about which we rally in righteousness. He is the perfect example and Plumb-line of our Faith, but more than this, He is the only One whose Person is completely without sin or perfectly righteous. Being exposed to the most awful conditions of the elements of desert, mountain and heat, the Lord withstood the yearnings of His flesh for food, and persevered as you and I must do in the Wilderness of this life.
“Should not we thy sorrow share and from worldly joys abstain, fasting with unceasing prayer, strong with thee to suffer pain?” It is not a reasonable expectation that we could ever share in full His sorrow and pain; but could we not watch and pray even for one hour? “What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt 26:40-41) It is for our own good that the Lord asks us to wait upon Him and pray. Prayer and Patience wards off the temptations to which the flesh is heir. We grow stronger in depriving ourselves, at least at appointed times, the desires of the flesh – food and comfort being two of the most grievous to withhold. How weak are we compared to that great strength of Christ in overruling the desperate desires of the flesh with such unyielding spiritual power.
“Then if Satan on us press, Jesus, Savior, hear our call! Victor in the wilderness, grant we may not faint or fall!” The word ‘IF’ in this stanza is a waste of the scribes pen, for certainly Satan WILL press on us with delightsome temptations of the flesh – and even dark spiritual ones. The Bishop and Captain of our Soul, the Lord Jesus Christ, as the perfect and ideal Commander, has led the way for us. He has set the Standard on the forward lines of battle. He has conquered, and offers us the victory for which we have not fought, have not bled, and could not have died – He did it ALL! We are as the lost sheep in the Wilderness. When we find ourselves parted from our caring Shepherd, we bleat until He comes to us. He hears our wavering cry, and comes to whatever ditch or rocky slope on which we find our perishing souls. He ALWAYS hears our voices of pleading and mercy. Do we as often hear the Voice of our Shepherd? We must for “. . . when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.” (John 10:4-5) If we claim His strength in moments of temptation, Satan will flee as does the hyena the Lion (of Judah).
“So shall we have peace divine: holier gladness ours shall be; round us, too, shall angels shine, such as ministered to thee.” If we are willing to abide its shackles, the world offers a kind of peace that is based on surrender of person and rights; but the peace that the Lord offers is that true Peace of Liberty and good conscience available only to those who are subjects of that great sovereign called the Prince of Peace. Such peace is not subject to environmental depravities, but rather abides in the heart of the believer forever. The Peace that Christ offers is not that enslaving peace of the world, but a Divine Peace; not the peace that entails a fearful doubt of things to come upon the earth, but engenders the highest hopes and expectations of the Coming Glory of Heaven: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27) The Christian enjoys such a blessing of which the world knows not. We have the ministry of God’s Angels to watch over and care for us in times of trouble – angels sent by God Himself.
“Keep, O keep us, Savior dear, ever constant by thy side; that with thee we may appear Glorious at thy Eastertide.” It is vain for believers to speculate on which Holy Day is more Holy – Christmas, Easter, Whitsunday, etc. It is not profitable to do so because all are required. Christ did not come to wash away some sins and leave others as blight upon our souls. He did all. He came at Christmas (where would Easter be without Christmas?); He rose from the Tomb at Easter (where would the Ascension be if Easter had not happened?); and His Holy Ghost was given at Pentecost (where would we be without the Holy Ghost?). But the great event of Easter sealed the whole of the works of Christ in a single stroke. He became our Passover Lamb of God at Easter. He is, indeed, constant by our side: “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” (Joshua 1:5) and in another place: “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Heb 13:5)
The voice of the Adversary and Enemy of your soul may whisper doubt in your ear regarding the Savior that is with you always. But regardless the tempter’s lies, God has spoken, and we of faith believe every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, do we not?
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Sermon Notes - First Sunday in Lent - Delivered at Canterbury Chapel, Fairhope, AL - Bishop Charles Morley, Presiding - 22 February 2015, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)
|The entire AOC Sunday Report may be found RIGHT HERE!|
The First Sunday in Lent.
LORD who for our sake didst fast forty days and forty nights; Give us grace to use such abstinence, that, our flesh being subdued to the Spirit we may ever obey thy godly motions in righteousness, and true holiness, to thy honour and glory, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
And due to the rubric, the Collect for the Day is followed by the Collect for Ash Wednesday, which is found on Page 124:
The first day of Lent, commonly called
LMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
¶ This Collect is to be said every day in Lent, after the Collect appointed for the day, until Palm Sunday.
The Temptation of Christ
Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil
Christ came, not only to atone for sin. But to be a perfect example to his people it was necessary, therefore, that he should suffer temptation, that he might know how to succor the tempted.
Due to the nature of these perilous times, perhaps we need to remind ourselves of, not only the terror, but the glorious aspects of these these latter days. God promised us a standard and a Savior
And the LORD said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more (Amos 7:6-8)
How many present today even KNOW what a Plumbline is?
Nature of a Plumbline:
1. Is perfectly vertical (used in building construction – even today)
2. Points to a precise point on earth.
3. Must be attached at a precise point on High, else it is not a plumbline.
Our plumbline is realized in the Word Incarnate – Jesus Christ! (John 1:1-3)
10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. (Isaiah 11:10)
In battle, the Ensign is a banner called “the colors” around which the Army rallies.
Times are becoming perilous and uncertain in our day. We must persevere, however, until the end. Let me give us a reassurance from Revelation.
Camp of the Saints
7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, 8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. 9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. 10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Rev 20:7-10)
What is the nature of a camp? It most often refers to a military cantonment area – a temporary enclave. In the end times, we may count on being so few that all believers may fit into a mere CAMP!
We are accounted “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” in Hebrews 11:13. Our quarters here will always be temporary.
Against this camp come all of the gathered armies from the four quarters of the world. The faint of heart may stumble with fear in that day; yet, the Lord is the Captain of Battles, and His people will be victorious despite heavy odds by His power and Intervention.
White Throne of Judgment (Rev 20:11-12)
Turning to our lectionary text, we have a revealed account of Christ's temptation from the prince of darkness. The whole is very minutely and fully narrated, in which we have,
2. The Time
3. The Place
4. The Agent
5. The Temptation and Victory
6. The Consolation.
The Time of Christ's Temptation
Three very notable and important things immediately preceded it.
2. His baptism and acknowledgment of the Father.
13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. 16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Matt 3:13-17)
Three events occurred at the Baptism of Jesus:
1. The Heavens were opened
2. Spirit descended
3. The confirmation and attestation of God the Father
The complete Trinity was present at the baptism of Jesus – Father whose Voice spoke from Heaven, the Holy Spirit descending as a Dove, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. (Matt 4:1)
Following the exultation and joy of the just often goes before depression and sorrow; Christ, after his illustrious baptism, was tempted of the devil in the wilderness.
2. It was just at his entrance on the public work of the ministry.
3. It was when he had fasted forty days.
The reason of Christ's fasting is not given; doubtless, he had retired into the wilderness that he might meditate and pray before he commenced his glorious work. It is worthy of remark that Moses, who was at the head of the legal; and Elijah, who was at the head of the prophetical, and Jesus; who was at the head of the New Testament dispensation, all fasted forty days; Exo_24:18; 1Ki_19:8.
The Place of Christ's Temptation
“And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.” (Matt 4:2)
Supposed by many to have been the wilderness of Sinai, a dreary, barren, and dangerous place. A striking emblem of the fallen state of the world, which he came to redeem. A just representation of that through which Zion's pilgrims have to pass, in their way to the promised land.
The Agent who tempted Christ
3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. (Matt 4:3)
Remember how the enemy was destroyed outside the Camp of the Saints? Rev 20:10
And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”
We see from the next verses 11-12, that that old Serpent (Adversary and Accuser of God’s people) will not be present at the white Throne Judgment. He will be enjoying the tropical zones in Hell.
11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. (Rev 20:11-12)
"The devil." The leader of the apostate angels - ”the murderer of our first parents” the seducer of mankind ”the prince of darkness” the god of this world” he whose nature is opposed to all that is good, and true, and holy, and whose work it is to go about, seeking whom he may devour. He is distinguished for subtlety and craft, for power, for dire malignity, and deep wickedness. Notice,
The Temptation itself, and the Victory obtained.
It was presented in three different forms He was tempted:
1. To distrust the Father's care and goodness.
"If thou be the Son of God, command these stones to be made bread." Christ referred to Deu_8:3, "Man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
God can preserve in dearth and famine, when the staff of bread is broken. His will is sufficient for every purpose. By his simple word he effects whatever he pleaseth. He was then tempted,
In countering every attack of Satan, Jesus always quotes Scripture.
2. Christ is conducted, most probably, to the top of Solomon's porch.
The porch was 150 feet high, and which overhung a valley of 700 feet; and he now suggests, that if Christ was the Son of God, he might cast himself down, seeing it is written that "God shall give his angels charge concerning him, lest at any time he dash his foot against a stone." Now, let it be observed, that Satan misquoted the passage for it is said, "to keep thee in all thy ways;" Psalm 91:11.. Then Satan grossly perverted the passage; for the promise was not given to foster recklessness and presumption, but to encourage those who humbly trusted in the Lord, and made the Lord their fortress and refuge; Psa 91:1, Psa 91:2. Christ repelled this suggestion by another quotation from the word of life, "It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." To rush into danger, is to tempt God; and to do this, is to violate the divine prohibition. He tempted Christ,
3. To gross and wicked idolatry.
Takes him to the most elevated part of one of the mountains in the vicinity of the desert, and shows him, most probably, the various provinces of Judea, and offers him these, with all their glory, if he would fall down and worship him.
Observe the monstrousness of the suggestion: for the Son of God to worship the devil! The utter wickedness and vileness of it! Then the arrogant and base offer, to give these kingdoms when he had no right in them, no claim to them, and therefore could not have the least ability to bestow any part of them Christ draws his last arrow from the holy quiver of God's word, and at once over comes the foul spirit: "Get thee hence Satan."
"It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve;" and thus triumphed over the adversary, for he immediately left him.
The Consolation which Christ received.
"Behold, angels came and ministered unto him." Angels had, doubtless, witnessed the scene, and had hailed the triumph of the Son of God, and they now became ministers of comfort to him.
Let this encourage the saints of the Most High; they have a heavenly guard, they are in a state of happy union and friendship with angels, for they are all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation;
Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? (Heb 1:14)
Christ's temptation is intended to teach us the following:
1. The true character of our great High Priest, "Tempted in all points as we are."
2. The true way of overcoming the enemy, by the power of the word of truth.
3. The success which we shall assuredly obtain in the faithful use of the divine armory.
4. The consolation God will communicate to all his faithful and constant servants. Moreover, we learn, that it is not sinful to be tempted. Satan cannot compel, only suggest; and the grace of God is sufficient for his people.
As Christ contemplated in the wilderness of Temptation, the full meaning of His Coming Ministries and Sacrifice, let us, too, during this Lenten Season, contemplate the times that are coming upon the earth and be strengthened by the ministry of the Holy Ghost.