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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.

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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday Message

A wise man once said that picking Bible verses by random is a hard thing to do.  Years of bookmarks, dogears, and other such make it so that the same "random" page can be hit over and over.  So I have changed my daily Bible reading to the first three chapters of each book in turn.  Which means that I have this week seen the first three chapters of Genesis through Judges.  And even from that, you pick up on the structure of the whole map of salvation. 

Genesis gives us the fall of man.  Exodus gives us the plan for man's rescue, and the call of the one man, Moses, who starts the ball rolling.  Then comes Leviticus, the beginning of the Laws to teach man the respect and reverence of God.  Deuteronomy begins with the retelling of all that happened to Israel since they left Egypt, Joshua the beginning of the conquest and especially the prayers for their human leader at the end of Chapter one.  And Judges begins to detail God's faithfulness even in the face of man's absent obedience.

(You missed one, Chris!)

So, let me look at them a little closer, if briefly.

In Genesis 3, we see the reasoning behind man's choice to fall:

3:6-And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasing to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make wise, she took of its fruit, and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. And where do we see this reasoning put in perspective?
1Jn 2:15 Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him,
1Jn 2:16 because all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh (the tree was good for food) , and the lust of the eyes (it was pleasing to the eyes) , and the pride of life (a tree to be desired to make wise) , is not of the Father, but is of the world.
And thus, a simple choice- God or the world?  -and the man that had the least reason of all time to make the wrong choice made it for all of us.  Because if he was going to screw it up, what chance did we have?

And then in Exodus, man finally equates suffering with the need for God to be with them.  But His rescue would not be halfway.  He would train a man up from scratch, and use him to deliver the people.  And He would have to start from the beginning.

Exo 3:13 And Moses said to God, Behold, when I come to the sons of Israel, and shall say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they shall say to me, What is His name? What shall I say to them?
Exo 3:14 And God said to Moses, I AM THAT I AM. And He said, So you shall say to the sons of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.
Which God are we referring to, they would ask; and the answer is I AM.  What better descriptive could there be of our God?  And this is why, though I am friends with those who see "divinity" in Jesus but not "Trinity" in God, I can never agree with their line of thought, because Jesus makes it pretty clear...

Joh 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and He saw and was glad.
Joh 8:57 Then the Jews said to Him, You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?
Joh 8:58 Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Before Abraham came into being, I AM!
I think the implication is unmistakable- if you think Jesus never claimed to be God, you are wrong.  It is not the King's English that makes the phrase in Genesis, "Let Us make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness."  If man can have body, mind, and spirit, and yet be one being, then how can a Creator too great to fully understand not be able to also be triune beyond our conception?  But, that's a bunny trail for another day.

Leviticus may seem to be a dry recitation of the ritual that Israel was called to do, but look at it from a few steps back.  Each of the passages of Law bear out a couple of ideas- one, that God deserves utmost respect, and two, that man's sin has set him so far away from God that a special mediator between man and God is needed.

Deuteronomy through Judges is pretty much a single train of thought.  In the first, we are called upon to recognize the necessity of remembering what God has done for us;  in Joshua, especially the aforementioned prayers, we see the necessity of having a strong leader whom God will be with, and will have the courage of his convictions.  And then, in Judges, the consequences of a people who did not do their part, who did not remember, and had to then deal with the consequences thereof.  But even then, when they DID remember and DID repent, God was still faithful to them.

(Chris!  What about Numbers?!?)


But, how do we go from a man fallen and so separated from God, and God being willing to forgive?  Is God going back on His word, is He lowering the bar?  Not at all.  Let us NOW look in Numbers, O impatient one.

In Numbers 3:39, at the end of numbering the armies of Israel, he has them number the Levites, the tribe who were the set-aside people who mediated between God and man.  They counted 22,000.  Then, God goes on to explain that since He spared the firstborn of Israel in Egypt, that the firstborn of Israel now belonged to Him.  But rather than weeding out all the firstborn from all the tribes, H e would just take the Levite tribe as a substitute for them.  These substitutes would them be the mediators for the whole people, since they belonged to God.

But was it a fair trade?  God just couldn't say, "I guess that's good enough,"- He had to make it good enough.  So He had them count the firstborn.

Num 3:42 And as Jehovah commanded him, Moses numbered all the first-born among the sons of Israel.
Num 3:43 And all the first-born males by the number of names, from a month old and upward, of those numbered of them, were twenty-two thousand two hundred and seventy-three.
Num 3:44 And Jehovah spoke to Moses saying,
Num 3:45 Take the Levites instead of all the first-born among the sons of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle. And the Levites shall be Mine. I am Jehovah.
Num 3:46 And for those that are to be redeemed of the two hundred and seventy-three of the first-born of the sons of Israel, who are more than the Levites,
Num 3:47 you shall even take five shekels each by the head, according to the shekel of the sanctuary you shall take. (The shekel is twenty gerahs.)
Num 3:48 And you shall give to Aaron, and to his sons, the silver of the redeemed left over among them.
So that way, ALL of them were redeemed.  So in God's redemption plan, there had to be a way for everyone to be redeemed, there had to be a substitution in place of those who would have been taken, and those who were the substitution would be the go-betweens for man and God.

So NOW let's take one last look at what we have here.

In Genesis, man chooses sin and falls. 

In Exodus, we see the power and holiness of God, and the need to bridge the gap sin caused.

In Leviticus, We see the need for a mediator between man and God.

In Numbers, we see the need for a total, substitutional sacrifice for redemption.

In Deuteronomy, we see the need to keep God not only in our minds, but in those of the next generation.

In Joshua, we see that in a fallen, sinful world, we need strong, God-driven leaders.

And in Judges, we see with even all that, we need a God willing to forgive.


And now you see why I left Numbers for last.  In the midst of dry statistics and lists of names, we see that Jesus' substitutional sacrifice is the centerpiece of God's plan for salvation.  Some people read those three chapters and see nothing but a boring old census- just "numbers".  What do you see?

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