These notes are set out in order to show how God's Plan of Redemption is outlined even at the very beginning of the Bible. Such patterns as these shown in the chart below add to the overwhelming evidence that the Bible is Inspired throughout by One person and he is the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16).
If the Bible were to carry a subtitle then the most appropriate would be borrowed from the Pentecostal Hymn Book, 'Redemption Tidings'.
Those who like to nit pick at the Bible have a happy hunting ground in the Old Testament as the natural man cannot understand the things of the Spirit and unless you look at the Old Testament with spiritual eyes (through the eyes of the One who inspired the writers), you will just see nation fighting for existence and practicing a bazaar religion to appease their god; which was the norm in those days, for all nations.
Some seem keen to point out that Moses didn't write the Books of Moses, even though the Jewish religion, to whom the Pentateuch belongs, names it as such. It is difficult to decide whether such criticism is aimed at the foolish Jews who believe such a thing or the believer who believes the bible to be the word of God, or contains the word of God. The argument will rage forever but there can be no question that the Bible is INSPIRED by God.
In the light of truth, it makes no difference who wrote the Pentateuch, nor even who might have compiled the many manuscripts written since Adam in the cuneiform code. What we are intended to see in the scriptures is Jesus Christ. Did not Jesus once say to the Jews, "You search the scriptures but can't find me, yet they are all about me".
John 5:37-39 "And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."
The Bible is about Jesus - OUR creator GOD who lived in Nazareth, a few thousand years ago. There cannot be a greater fact to ponder. Check these references: Col 1:19For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; Col 2:9 For in him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. Col 2:3In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
If the purpose of life is to know God (John 17:3) and bring him glory, and ALL the fulness of wisdom and knowledge is to be found in Jesus, what else is needed? Therefore we should expect to see that every incident recorded and every character featured in the Old Testament is to point to, reflect or contrast with, Jesus Christ and the purposes of God through Him. So it is folly to waste time searching the scriptures with any other purpose than to know more about Jesus. This is the key to understanding the Old Testament. If you want a history book, or science manual, go to your local library. It might be good to ponder on the fact that the Old Testament was Jesus' bible. Sometimes I am persuaded to believe that the Old Testament was written specifically for Jesus.
Ponder the chart below, and see what you can discern, then read the notes with continued reference to this outline.
It is often said that the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed and the New Testament is the Old revealed. We can see the New Testament message concealed as early as the first five books in the Bible. This New Testament message is laid out in the chart illustrated, though in a very brief form.
As we have said, all scripture points us to Christ, for in Him is ALL the fulness of the knowledge and wisdom of God Hebrews 10:7: "Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God."
As members of the body of Christ we can also expect to see truths which are relevant to our own Christian walk, for we are His body.
You will see that each book in turn has a primary heading which sums up the main illustrative message of the book.
At the very bottom of the chart we see that these spell out for us, both God’s Part and Man’s Part. In Genesis and Exodus we see God's part, and in Numbers and Deuteronomy we see man's part in the Salvation plan. Leviticus joins the two. "Levi" means "joined" or "separated".
God’s work has been to create us and as consequence of the Fall, in mercy He redeems us. We are essentially his creatures who have lost his (Holy) Spirit within us, because of Sin. But that which was lost, God paid to buy back, that he might re-create it. Numbers and Deuteronomy parallel man’s part of the Testament which is to Believe and Obey. _____________________________________________________________________________________
GENESIS Genesis is a great illustration of natural life. The first words in the book are “In the beginning God created” and the last words in the book are “coffin in Egypt”. It is within these same brackets that we can surely see natural life illustrated. Life ends in a coffin. But the fact that the last words are "coffin in Egypt" then some more spiritual significance can be seen illustrated. For Egypt was the place where the Israelites were kept in captivity as slaves. So here we see "man" who has been created in God's image is not only dead but he is "dead in Egypt". Men pray in Genesis. They are religious in Genesis. They sacrifice in Genesis- This is the natural man before Redemption. God’s people (Jacob’s family) finish up in Slavery, under Pharaoh in Egypt. The story is abundant in symbolism. Pharaoh is symbolic of Sin/Satan, Egypt is symbolic of the World, and its godless system. The coffin speaks of death.
This parable of the spiritual condition of the natural man, before he is redeemed (illustrated by Exodus) is spoken of by Paul in Ephesians when he writes of the believer’s death and slavery which they we were in before God saved them.
Ephesians 2:1-5 "And you has he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation (life-style) in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, has quickened (brought us to life) us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)"
Here we see man's bondage to the world, and its godless system. Those of us who are now redeemed certainly recognise that we went the way of everyone else, caught up and entrapped in its pleasures desires and ambitions. Slaves to our lusts and under the power of the “Prince of the power of the air” - which is Satan. (This phrase simply means that Satan operates with power in the higher spiritual realms.) Satan is just a prince, not the King, though he desires that position in the world and in our lives. His power exists within these higher realms, and man as a spiritual being, comes under these Satanic influences without realising they exist. When we believe, we receive the Holy Spirit who then leads us into truths concerning these higher levels, through the Word of God.
However in Exodus we read that God (who is rich in mercy) brought his people out by His mighty hand. The ceremony of the Passover points to Calvary and our death in being identified with Christ. Our baptism is typified in the Israelites passing through the Red sea, where all their past rulers died behind them. This is all is a wonderful picture of our salvation through Jesus who was our Passover lamb (John 1:29) We shall no doubt speak more of that later.
And there's more... Besides this illustration of Man by Nature (The natural man) which descends to the depths of sin, slavery and death, we also can see a Cameo of both World History and Church History.
Cameo of WORLD HISTORY AND CHURCH HISTORY
First we have a cameo of World History in chapters 1-11. These chapters span from Creation to the Flood, when God destroyed the world because of its wickedness, and saved only a few in Noah’s Ark.
In this we get a picture of the beginning and end of the natural world which Peter in his epistle says will one day be destroyed by fire. (2 Peter 3:7).
It seems ironic that natural man thinks the world is his, and it depends upon his efforts to maintain it. He believes that he has evolved into the wonderful wise and resourceful creature that he is by his own efforts. For example, according to a natural history program, and comments made by Sir David Attenborough, “why the Zebra chose to cover itself in stripes no-one really knows”. Another professor on the Open University program made the statement that “everything in evolution is an accident”. Apparently we could have all evolved into objects similar to those fashioned when foam filler busts out from a tube into a mass of bubbles and balls. Amazing, though it is, most people today seem to believe such nonsense.
All evolution theorists are succinctly described in Romans chapter 1 by the Apostle Paul “professing themselves to be wise, they became fools”. However, the irony is that after man has spent millions of pounds and hours of effort to turn the planet “green” - God will destroy the world by fire - the very thing they have put great effort into trying to prevent (global warming?).
The second History Cameo illustrated is Church History. We can only give brief outlines and comments here. There would be far too much to write, and more will be seen in this illustration by those who have a greater knowledge of the bible and God’s purposes. The History of the church is seen in the lives and events that surrounded Abram, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, as recorded in Genesis.
Abram's father was “called out” of Ur, and commanded by God to go to another country. Abram being his son, was also subject to that call. He was called to go to a land of which he had no knowledge, as to its existence or position. God later changed his name to Abraham. The word church (Ecclesia) means “The called out ones”- we have been called out from the world to journey as pilgrims to another “country.” The writer to Hebrews equates this with the believer’s experience; Heb 11:8-10 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
It was Abraham’s FAITH that justified him in God’s sight. It is by Faith that we are today justified before God. Gal 3:6-7 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know you therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
After the flood, this may look as plan “B”, but a greater knowledge of the bible will endorse the fact that God always blesses the second born, or the second part. It is as though he allows man his way first, then he steps in to redeem. Examples. Old Testament/ New Testament: Cain/Abel: Ishmael/Isaac: Esau/Jacob: Saul/David: Flesh/ Spirit
ISAAC: Isaac was Abraham’s second son. His first son he obtained “by the flesh- naturally”, through his servant girl Hagar. He did this because God had promised him that he would be the father of many nations and have millions of descendants. But he had waited many years to have a child and his wife Sarah, was well past the age of bearing children. So naturally Sarah thought it best to try to fulfil the promises of God in their own strength, and by their own natural efforts. Of course this was not God’s way, and it is very clear to us today to see this spiritual principle. Often God delays in answering prayer or meeting one's need, and really He is testing our faith in Him, by seeing what solution we will come up with if He does not step in and help. The scriptures speak often of the need to "wait upon the Lord". Some good folk seldom think of relying totally upon God and feel it is their prerogative to try to work out a remedy for their problems especially if in seemingly impossible situation like Abraham and Sarah found themselves in. But the promise was not of their initiation, God took the initiative and gave them this amazing promise. No doubt Abraham w s aware that this promise could not be fulfilled naturally by his own efforts. Later when Sarah was 90 years of age, she had a miracle pregnancy, and Isaac was born. If you study the epistle of Paul to the Galatians, the fuller spiritual parable will be seen. But the point of Isaac in terms of church history is the fact that in Genesis ch 22, (as in Ps 22 and Luke 22-23) we have the story of the cross in terms of God sacrificing his own son. So the story of Isaac illustrates Mount Calvary. This is the first point of call, for those called out from the world, to be part of the body of Christ,- the church. God provided a ram to die in Isaac's place. God's own son was sacrificed in our stead. Isaac was a "resurrected" child when he came down from that mountain.
JACOB: Jacob had twelve sons, and from his family came the twelve tribes of Israel. Jacob had his name changed by God to Israel. Once again in Romans and Galatians we see that the growth of Israels family is a true parable of the growth of the church. Rom 2:28, clearly says; For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: and again later in Romans, Paul writes "Not all Israel are Israel". Only those who like Abraham have the same "un-staggering" faith in God's promises, can be counted as Abraham's children.
Jacob was renowned for his conflict with his elder brother Esau. Once again as with Abraham’s sons we see that the spiritual blessing comes to the second born. These pairs in scripture are all illustrations of the Old life and New Birth, and how the Flesh wars against the Spirit. They are like two brothers constantly fighting. In the natural, pride, jealousy and resentment usually motivate the conflict. Much is written and spoken about spiritual warfare but the vast majority of it is fought within us as individuals. (Check out our studies on David the Man of God in 1 Samuel) Paul speaks of Esau in Hebrews Heb 12:15-17: ….looking diligently lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.
This battle is explained by Paul to the Galatians. Gal 5:16-17 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. (Check out verse 18-26 also.) Jacob is also renowned for his wanderings from place to place. And the church is depicted in the epistles as pilgrims and we have no lasting city here. We have been born in Heaven and that is our Home
Check out Ps 87- the church is the spiritual Jerusalem- Zion. Ps 87:5-6: And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her. The LORD shall count, when he writes up the people, that this man was born there.
It is amazing how man is attached to his birth place. Football supporters especially allow themselves to endure such agonies and sacrifices over a certain football team, (consisting mainly of foreigners) simply because they were born in the town or city which bears the same name as the football club. Having been born in Heaven, that is our home, we are but pilgrims in a foreign land now. Our Father in Heaven –(our homeland) speaks to us through His word which is written in the language of Heaven. The natural man can never understand it. Millions know Hebrew and Greek but have no understanding of spiritual truth. This ability to hide truth was something a disciple of Jesus could not understand. None knew more of the Hebrew scriptures than the scribes and Pharasees, whom Jesus upbraided for their blindness in not discerning him as their Messiah, from the scriptures. Pause for thought on these verses; John 14:22-23: Judas said unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that you wilt manifest yourself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 1 Cor 2:14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
JOSEPH Most characters in the Old Testament are in some way illustrations of the Lord Jesus, but none more so than Joseph. He was a special son, not the second son, but second from last. His early spiritual characteristics separated him from his brethren and he was sold for 20 pieces of silver. They thought they had seen the last of him. But later he became their salvation, when a famine broke out in their own land. Joseph is a wonderful picture of the second coming, for as in his story we see Joseph reunited with his brethren after many years, so His brethren shall see Jesus one day, and be reunited with him to share in his glory and riches.
So then we see a cameo illustration of the History of the church. Birth - "Called out like Abraham Salvation. Calvary illustrated in God providing a lamb as substitute when Isaac was to be sacrificed Jacob- Pilgrims in a barren land, continually warring with Esau, a symbol of the flesh. But it was also a time of growth and prosperity Joseph- Illustrative of His second coming after being separated from his family for many years.
This is the story of Redemption. In Genesis we see Mankind’s “Way Down” as they went down into Egypt and slavery, but in Exodus we read of Mankind's “Way Out” as God through Moses brings his people from Egypt to go to the promised land of Canaan. This deliverance from Egypt is all a perfect illustration of our Salvation through the Passover blood (death) of Jesus and of our Christian life as we are now led by the Holy Spirit and the Word.
It is a New beginning for the children of God. We are delivered by the WORD, THE BLOOD and the CLOUD AND PILLAR. The Word Moses brought the Word of God to Pharoah “Let my people go that they might serve ME”. He was their God and they should be serving him, not Pharaoh. They belonged to God. Pharaoh didn’t stand a chance of keeping them in bondage. God’s word is final. The Gospel is this same message today. Gospel preaching is tantamount to preaching at the devil.
The Passover and the Blood; This wonderful feast, recorded in ch 12, really should need no explanation as a forecast of Calvary and the sacrifice of the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world. The whole of the New Testament is based on Christ as our Passover, but especially Hebrews, which is about Salvation.
The Fire and Cloud The children of Israel were led by a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day This illustrates the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.
Exodus is in two parts Part 1; Salvation, Part 2; Service
Part one is about Deliverance from Egypt- SALVATION, and the second part is about Building the Tabernacle (church) which is about “SERVICE” We are indeed “saved to serve”, and the god we worship will be the God we serve.
There is by far too much we could write about here so we will just leave these few seed thoughts in this summary outline. The best advice one could give to any student is to familiarise oneself with the contents of the book and the details in the building of the tabernacle. They all are illustrations of Christ and His body the church.
So then in Genesis and Exodus we see illustrated, both Creation and Redemption God made man and God bought man back from slavery. That is God’s part, but if we switch to the other two books Numbers and Deuteronomy we see Man’s part in this agreement (Testament)
MAN'S PART- NUMBERS AND DEUTERONOMY
Numbers is about the experiences of the children of Israel in the wilderness as they journeyed to Canaan. The Key word in this Book is FAITH. For the whole plan of the wilderness experience was to test their faith. The Israelites could have reached Canaan by their own natural knowledge in twelve days, but they could never have conquered the inhabitants. It took God 40 years to change them into a people who believed in Him sufficiently to go into the land, to conquer and claim it. There were giants in the land, which put fear into the hearts of most of them. But Faith dispels fear. Especially faith in God. Much could be written about the importance of faith, and indeed much has been said and written in the past. So we will add but a few main points. 1. Faith is the one characteristic that God seeks for in us. He cannot bless us without faith and it impossible for us to give him pleasure without faith. 2. Faith is the Life of God. That is why when he sees it in his children he is pleased. They are growing up in his life. They are beginning to imitate him. This feature of parenthood has long given great pleasure to those who have young children. 3. Faith is in three parts. Knowledge Belief and Action 4. Faith does not exist in a vacuum, it must rest upon something. Having faith alone is of no value, nor is “coming to faith” any kind of valid or spiritual experience, if the faith is not in something or someone. Charles Price once said “The man who skates on thin ice can have as much faith as the man who skates on thick ice” True faith, which is the life of God, comes from resting upon God's promises- the bible. (1 Peter 2:2) So we need Knowledge first. Knowledge of what the bible says about God and what his promises are which he expects us to believe Secondly we need to truly believe in our Heart, not just in our head, that is mere credence. Thirdly, we need to put what we believe into action. We should channel the Life of our Father which is in us into doing things we could not do without it. If we go to work and maybe knock down a house or build a house, if we have no real life in us, it will kill us. So we can only accomplish things according to the amount of life in us. Now the bible tells us that God made the world by faith or through the Life power in Himself. He simple spoke his word and things materialised. Things which are not, came into being. Heb 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. Similarly that life of God with us should accomplish things which bring great pleasure to our father. When we put these things into practice, then we move on in our Christian life, so we can note Numbers as illustrating the WAY ON
Deuteronomy illustrates the second aspect of man’s part in the agreement. It is that of Obedience. The word Deutero (second) nomy (nomos- Word) literally means the second Word, or Law. God gave the Israelites a second hearing of the Law, because the generation that had received it originally, all died in the wilderness, except one or two. So once again we see the second being blessed. This was a new generation, born in the wilderness. They never knew Egypt.
So to TRUST and OBEY is a very simple yet profound motto for any Christian life. The key word in the book is “Remember”. Obviously since childhood they had been told of their great deliverance and the reason they were in the wilderness. No doubt children born in the wilderness would be told that they were not there permenantly. They would need faith to believe what they were told. Remembrance is also the key to obedience, and following. Hence the reason Jesus gave us the bread and the wine, by which we are to remember his death for us. It is in remembrance of him and His great love for us that we in return LOVE him. Because we love him we will keep his commandments. It is easy to serve someone you love. In fact it is a delight, for love is giving.- We often sing two songs. One is; - Trust and Obey for there’s no other way To be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey And the second song has the words “When I remember what He’s done for me I’ll never go back anymore”
So Numbers tells us the Way Through the Wilderness is by Faith and the Way On is by obedience- each day following the guidance of the Holy Spirit which comes to us by the Word (nomos)
Anti Legalism & Sanctification
It is vitally important that we understand the two pronged responsibility of man’s part in this plan of the full gospel. 90% of the New Testament epistles concerns Man's part in the relationship between God and Man
Faith AND Obedience are Siamese twins
Those who delight in the joy and freedom of being justified by faith, and live in the grace of God, should remember that this is but half of the gospel. Otherwise they are in danger of frustrating the grace of God and continuing in sin without realising it. Galatians 2:21.
If we are not doing the will of God then we are surely sinning. And the same scripture that gives us the authority to count ourselves as justified in the face of Satan’s accusations, also tells us that the “Will of God” for our lives is Sanctification. This is what it says;
1Thes 4:3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
1Thes 4:7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
1 Pet 1:14-16 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (lifestyle); Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
1 Pet 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
(If this is not clear then please check out our studies on Hebrews, particularly chs 9-10)
As pointed out elsewhere in our studies, It might surprise those who preach against “legalism” THAT THERE ARE OVER 450 COMMANDS in the New Testament. It is obvious that we need guidance as to how to live in almost every department of our lifestyle. One man's legalism can surely be another man's sanctification.
Certainly the joy of justification is mainly the freedom from legalism. We are no longer trying to stand justified before God by keeping the law of Moses, for that can never be achieved. We are free from the condemnation of the law by faith in the fact that Jesus has fulfilled the law of Moses by not only keeping it but also taking the penalty for breaking the law. When we "died with Christ" by faith, so God counted us free from the condemnation of the Law. Sin lost its power to separate us from God, for it got that power from the Law. But if we are now joined with God, can sin and love for the world join the party? Not likely!
So it is folly to just see Salvation and freedom from the law solely from our point of view. For essentially it has MORE to do with God than us. The gospel is to fulfill HIS PURPOSES- NOT OURS.
His will is that we should be his children, and to be HOLY & OBEDIENT children. And in 1 Peter 1:2 above note that we have been chosen unto sanctification unto obedience;
Recently I attended a church which majors in anti-legalism (except when making laws about how the "church" is run and by whom) and the chap leading the church in prayer and worship was wearing a woolly hat. He is a young Christian so no blame can be set at his door but unfortunately the eldership condoned this act which the New Testament tells us is an act of disrespect for the Lord. Just as in today’s culture to wear a hat in the presence of the Queen would be disrespectful. In terms of sanctification it looks more like disobedience as of all the commands in the New Testament this one, concerning a man not covering his head in God's presence is surely one of the easiest to fulfil. To deliberately wear a covering to display one's freedom from legalism is surely to frustrate the grace of God (Galatians 2:23), which means that the grace of God is not being allowed to fulfil its purpose. The purpose of Grace is to free us from the Law of Moses and bind us to the Law of the Spirit. The former we should be glad to be rid of and the latter we should be glad to bind our will to, when we remember what Christ has done for us to be free. Once slaves of sin but now slaves of righteousness (i.e that which is right) Check out Romans 6 again.
Then finally in the centre we see God & Man joined together in the Book of Leviticus through Worship- The Way UP In this book named after Levi, we read of the Way up to God. The name Levi means “joined” or "separated". The Levites were separated from the rest of the tribes and joined unto God God made a way whereby man could commune with God. But God is Holy and can only be approached by those who are sanctified. This book sets out all the conditions which are necessary for the priests to be joined unto God. Sins and sicknesses and human relationships all need to be dealt with, and Leviticus tells us how the priests of Israel were to deal with such things through sacrifices and offerings. So the book is a manual for Priests and Levites on how to conduct themselves and their “religion” As far as we are concerned the main issues in the book are the Sacrifices and Offerings, for they are all illustrative prophecies about Jesus and his work of salvation. Strict adherence to the “pattern” was essential and any deviation from it, meant certain death, for they would be presenting a false “picture” of Jesus and his saving work. Two of Aaron’s sons were struck dead for offering unto God "strange fire". What that was specifically is difficult to ascertain. Maybe it was strange incense, for the formulae for the incenses were strictly laid down. It seemed like a trivial thing and what the sons did might have been a nice variation as far as they were concerned. Note that they were Aaron's sons. The junior generation are apt to think they know a better way, of doing things. Perhaps they thought their new fire would catch on, from the previous boring repetition. But sadly God didn't catch on. Such procedures and conditions which point to Christ remind us of that well known verse in John 14:6, which says that "No man can come to the God but by Jesus Christ."
Also significantly we read of the work of the Priests. This was to “serve” the Lord every day. They served the people in sacrificing their animals in the courtyard of the tabernacle, but they served the Lord by working in the first part of the tabernacle called the Holy Place.
(The second part of the tabernacle was called the Holy of Holies in which God himself dwelt with his people. No-one was allowed in, except on one occasion per year when the High Priest went in with the blood of a goat and sprinkled it upon the “Mercy Seat” which was the lid of a golden box. The Golden box was known as the Ark (box) of the Covenant, and contained three items which were, The Tablets on which the Law was written, Aaron’s rod that miraculously budded, and a Pot of the Manna they ate while in the wilderness. Miraculously, or not so miraculously seeing they were in God’s presence, the manna stayed fresh and the rod of Aaron stayed alive and budded though unconnected to the Almond tree from which it came.
While working in the Holy Place the Priests had three responsibilities of duty. One was to keep an Altar of incense burning continually. The second was to make sure each day there were twelve fresh loaves on a golden table, called the Table of Shewbread The third responsibility was to ensure that the golden candlestick with its seven-branched lights continued to burn giving continued light in a tent with no windows. This was an oil light. This threesome pattern is repeated often in scripture and outlines by parable for us today the three things that God expects of all those who profess to love him and want to serve him. Usually when a person accepts Christ as Saviour, the first advice given to them, or should be given to them, is to ensure that three things follow their decision Prayer, Bible Reading and Witnessing. These shouldn’t really need any explanations but briefly we will summarise by saying that the Altar symbolises Prayer. This is shown in Revelation. Rev 8:3-4 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.
It is essential that a child keeps in contact and builds a relationship with the father. Our prayers constitute our communion with God in the realm of the Spirit. The right kind of incense, specially formulated had to be used. So the right kinds of prayer ascend to God as a sweet savour in his nostrils.
The Bread symbolises, as it does throughout scripture, The Word of God.. Our Daily bread is our daily reading of God’s word. A child needs food to grow. It must always be fresh. The Candlestick symbolises our Witness. We are witnesses unto Christ whether we want to or not, whether we try or not. It is good therefore to keep the light shining brightly. The oil symbolises the Holy Spirit within us and the candlestick was carved like an almond tree with flowers and buds of the same. The almond tree is a symbol of the word of God. Jer 1:11-12 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what do you see? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree. Then said the LORD unto me, You have see well.: for I will hasten my word to perform it. So our Witness is to spread the Word by our words and life through the power of the Holy Spirit.
These three are absolute essentials to Christian living. It is our service to God; and as previously stated, - the God we worship is the God we serve. Worship is not just singing hymns on Sunday in church but the living of our lives before those who know not God.
I was very sad to read an article by a welknown church leader who as an opening to his warnings against legalism, began by degrading the practice of advising new converts that they should seek to fulfil these three activities of prayer, reading the word and witness (behaviour) in order to grow as a child of God. That is crazy! If we are kings and Priests, what the heck are we supposed to do as priests unto God? Build confessional boxes? Offer sacrifices of bread and wine? Spend time in the pub or theatre, as a witness? The alternative is- "now you are saved - off you go and do as you please" We have been called to be priests unto God, to please God not self. When you have read the one chapter of Jude, then note what God commanded Moses; Exod 19:6 6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. 1 Pet 2:5 You also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 1 Pet 2:9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Romans ch 12 v 1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
We should then remind ourselves that Levi means “separated and “joined. We are separated from our old flesh life, (circumcised) and alive unto God through resurrection life. Jesus is the only Way up. We are called to follow in his steps Jesus said to thomas that he was going to his Father. Thomas queries how he could know the fathe rand the way to the father. Jesus expresses his surprise that he didn't know who he really was, after such a long time with Him. Jesus tells him I am going Up , to the Father. I am the way up. But I will come again and receive you unto myself. Most people would interpret that as the time of the second coming, but Jesus said he would send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. it is by the work of the Holy Spirit that we ascend by faith into his presence . We are seated together with Christ in God the Father. Jesus is the way up to Zion.