The God of Peace is With You

2018-11-14T10:26:12+00:00 November 19th, 2018|

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace . . .” (Galatians 5:22). We all crave peace of heart and conscience. Unrest, anxiety, guilt, anger, and a host of other unseemly feelings and emotions often consume us. The deeds of the flesh include strife, jealousy, envy, anger and such things as these (Galatians 5:19-21). Peace of heart and peace within the heart often evade us.

Jay Adams reminds us of an important biblical principle. “Feelings flow from actions” (Competent to Counsel, 97). See also The Christian Counselor’s Manual, 130-136. Simply put, feelings follow. When you do something bad, your conscience hurts and you feel bad. When you do something right, you feel good about it.

We see this principle at work in several places in Scripture. Philippians 4:6-7 links practice and peace, what we do and how we feel. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” If you love God and seek His face in the midst of anxiety by pouring out your needs to God, the promise is the peace of God will overtake you. A sense of inner peace comes after we take appropriate action to seek God in our troubles.

So also, Philippians 4:9, “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” If you expect to experience peace which comes from God (He is the God of peace), then you must practice the Christian life. You must practice what Scripture teaches about the church, the family, interpersonal relations, employments, and other issues. Good feelings follow proper practice.

When children need to get up and get dressed, and get ready for school, it is inappropriate for them to refuse by saying, “I don’t feel like it.” Parents do not take kindly to this response. God does not take kindly to this response from His children either. When He calls us to repent of our sins and turn to Christ for forgiveness, He does not ask if we feel like it. When He issues the Ten Commandments as a way of life for His people, He does not consult us and ask us how we feel about it. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

Once God cleanses our consciences and reorients our hearts, we feel bad when we lie, cheat or, steal. Guilt replaces peace. On the other hand, we have feelings of peace in our hearts when we tell others the truth, make sure we return the property of others, and keep our eyes on our own papers when taking exams. As in conversion itself, feelings follow.

Ultimately, peace of heart and feelings of peace are the work of the Spirit. God uses our actions as part of the means to bring about His ends. He enjoins, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13). God gives you both the will and the ability to follow His commandments, albeit imperfectly. By God’s grace you work out the implications of your salvation by following God’s word. As you do so, the God of peace is with you and you experience peace of heart. The fruit of the Spirit, peace, blossoms and becomes a visible and attractive part of your life.

Denny Prutow

The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength

2018-11-09T13:59:16+00:00 November 12th, 2018|

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy…” (Galatians 5:22). Love is the first of the fruit, love for God, love for Christ, love for others, love for Scripture, and love for the moral law as a way to demonstrate love. Joy quickly follows. This joy is not effervescent and fading. It is not like the froth on a root-beer float that quickly evaporates. It is an anchor for the soul. It is a buoy keeping us afloat on the sea of life.

Shortly after my conversion, the man who led me to Christ saw me and asked, “What’s the matter? Have you lost your joy?” His questions forced some quick introspection. No, I thought, it has not been a particularly good day; but “I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (2 Timothy 1:12). My joy in Christ was intact. It was a stabilizing influence in the midst of a pressure-packed day.

Nehemiah 8:10 exhorts, “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” The people of old experienced grief because of their sins. They heard the reading and preaching of the Word of God (Nehemiah 8:1-8). The result was shock and sorrow. “All the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law” (Nehemiah 8:9).

The Spirit of God applying Scripture to our hearts may cause us to feel guilt. This sudden recognition of guilt may provoke deep sorrow for sin. Such godly sorrow “produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Godly sorrow therefore has a positive side. “Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

And so, when the people of old heard the Word of God, it was not just a day for weeping and sadness. It was a holy day, a Sabbath to the Lord (Leviticus 23:24-25). It was a day for remembering. “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to observe the Sabbath day” (Deuteronomy 5:15). It was a day to remember the salvation of God and to rejoice in His grace.

You too may grieve your circumstances or have sorrow over your sins. When you hear the Word of God regarding the work of Christ and the grace of Christ, “you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19). And when the light of Christ arises in your heart, it is the dawning of a new day.

You experience the joy of the LORD, that is, the joy that comes from the LORD who renews your heart. He takes a spiritual scalpel and removes that old angry heart and disposition. He replaces it with a new heart. You experience the joy of being forgiven, the joy of adoption into God’s family, and the joy of new purpose, God’s purpose, for living. You have a new joy and confidence born of the Spirit.

This joy in God and from God is an inner strength of heart. It is a quiet godly assurance. You gladly pursue God’s purposes in your work and in your family. God becomes the stabilizing influence in your life. You actually experience and exhibit real joy, the fruit of the Spirit.

Denny Prutow

What is Biblical Love?

2018-11-03T08:26:47+00:00 November 5th, 2018|

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these (Galatians 5:19-21). God’s moral law summarized in the Ten Commandments stands opposed to such things. On the other hand, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

As we begin to examine this contrast by way of a look at the fruit of the Spirit, we see the priority of love. There is no law against love. God’s law defines love. “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). The Ten Commandments give you a way to express love. You express love for God when you put His desires before your own, when you gladly worship Him, when you call upon His Name and pray to Him, and when you honor Him by setting aside one day in seven from regular work for corporate, family, and private worship study and meditation.

You love those around you when you respect age and position, when you preserve life, when you live chastely outwardly and inwardly, when you work to make a fair wage and support yourself and your family, when the truth is important and your word is your bond, and when you live this way in a state of contentedness. This love for God is not a burden to you but a joy.

This love also has certain characteristics. “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:5-8). This is a description of love.

Love patiently and kindly tells the truth. Love assumes positions of authority without arrogance. Loving fathers do not demand tasks be done exactly the way they would do them. They do not demand their own way. Loving mothers are not easily provoked by the antics of their children. The love you express in following the Ten Commandments should bear the marks of this description.

Finally, such love springs from the heart. In fact, it is an attitude of heart. Philippians 2:5 exhorts, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” Attitude here refers to inclination of the heart or disposition. You do not want to be known as a person with an ugly disposition. You want to be a person inclined to love. You express this loving inclination, disposition, or attitude through the Ten Commandments as 1 Corinthians 13 describes. This attitude of heart is a fruit of the Spirit. It comes from God. If you lack in love, you should seek God for a new attitude. You should study the Bible to see how Godly love lives and acts.

Such love is also a witness. “No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us” (1 John 4:12). Attitudes of love, gladly expressed through the Ten Commandments, as 1 Corinthians 13 describes, testify to God’s presence. Unbelievers entering a congregation where God’s love is being perfected, where Christians express such love, will get a glimpse of the Divine. They will see God.

Denny Prutow

The Context of Contentment

2018-10-24T13:06:46+00:00 October 29th, 2018|

Well known Christian counselor, Dr. Jay Adams, has lamented the proliferation of wall plaques that quote selected Bible verses. I’ve heard him suggest beginning a contextual wallpaper company. One of the texts frequently taken out of context is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him [Christ] who strengthens me.”

On the basis of this text, we should not expect miraculous infusions of strength of Superman proportions. We will never be able to leap tall buildings with a single bound nor be as fast as a speeding bullet. So, to what do the “all things” in Philippians 4:13 refer. Look at the context.

Verses 11-12 are revealing. “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” Yes, Paul is speaking about contentment. By the grace of God in Christ, he is able to be content “in any and every circumstance” of life. In “all things” regarding the circumstances of his life, whether freely preaching Christ or in prison because of his preaching, whether shipwrecked on a Mediterranean island or spending time mentoring Timothy or Titus, Paul is content in heart and soul.

No matter the circumstance, Paul knows that Jesus Christ rules over heaven and earth. Paul know that God in heaven carefully guiding “all things” in the circumstances of his life for his good. Paul confesses this truth in Romans 8:28. “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (emphasis added). No matter the circumstance in your life or mine, this truth applies. Contentment in “all things” is not elusive.

Denny Prutow

Did Abraham “Find” or “Gain” Justification (Romans 4:1)

2018-10-18T11:34:51+00:00 October 22nd, 2018|

In a recent preaching class, we were looking at Romans 4:1-3 as a possible text and deriving the main point of this text. I was using the NASB. “What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found?” (verse 1). One of the class members pointed out that the ESV uses “was gained” rather than “found,” as in the NASB. “What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?” Why the difference and how do you handle the difference in a sermon?

After some study, two questions emerge. Question 1. What is the better translation? The better translation of the verb form, which is active voice, is “found.” If the verb form was passive voice, it could be translated “was gained.” Since the verb is active voice, NASB is the better translation.

It might be argued that the ESV takes the context into consideration. For example, Romans 3:27 asks, “Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith.” If salvation is gained by works, boasting is appropriate. As Romans 4:2 indicates, “If Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.” Hence, there is a link back to the context in Romans 3. True enough. This fact does not obviate the coordinate fact that “found” is the better translation of the underlying Greek term.

Question 2 bears more directly upon the interpretation of Romans 4:1. What does the prepositional phrase, “concerning the flesh,” modify? Does “concerning the flesh” or “according to the flesh” modify Abraham, our forefather? Or, does this prepositional phrase modify “gained,” and read, “gained according to the flesh”? The latter translation points to justification by works and seems to take context into consideration.

This second question leads us to consider the underlying Greek structure more carefully. NASB follows the United Bible Societies Greek text; “according to the flesh” modifies “Abraham, our forefather.” The USB Greek New Testament is a critical text. That is, it considers the numerous copies of the New Testament, in whole or in part, including fragments, and makes a judgment as to the earliest readings and possibly the best readings of respective texts. The USB Greek New Testament favors the reading followed by the NASB.

The Geneva Study Bible of 1599 offers a different reading of Romans 4:1. “What shall we say then, that Abraham our father hath found concerning the flesh?” In this case, in my view, Geneva 1599 properly translates the text “found” rather than “gained.” However, notice that in Geneva 1599, the prepositional phrase, “concerning the flesh,” modifies the verb “found.” This reading of Romans 4:1 connects back more directly to the context of Romans 3. In other words, “found concerning the flesh” refers to justification on the basis of human effort or strength. Geneva 1599 follows the Received Text, Textus Receptus (TR), which is a Greek New Testament that provides the basis for translations of the Reformation period. The Received Text also underlies the King James Version.

Bottom line? In studying Romans 4:1, in teaching from Romans 4:1, or in preaching on Romans 4:1, we need to decide as to the best translation of the text as a whole. Overall, it seems to me that NASB offers the best translation of the text. In this case, I favor the reading in the USB Greek New Testament. Further, after analyzing Romans 4:1, I conclude that although the differences outlined above are real, they do not materially alter Paul’s purpose for introducing Abraham in Romans 4:1. His purpose is to use Abraham and then David as clear examples of justification by grace through faith. My study does influence how I handle Romans 4:1-3 in the specifics but it does not change what I understand Paul’s purpose to be—displaying Abraham as a preeminent example of free and gracious justification.

As to how I would address the difference between the NASB and the ESV in a sermon, I would simply say, that after careful study of the text, I think the NASB, in this case, gives us the better translation.

All of us who engage in the teaching and exposition of Scripture understand that the above study involves issues that we often encounter in our work of interpreting and preaching the Word of God.

Denny Prutow

Old Testament Grain Offerings and You

2018-10-13T16:13:57+00:00 October 15th, 2018|

Leviticus 2 requires grain offerings. These are second in line after the whole burnt offerings. What is their typological significance? To what do they point? Leviticus 2:9 gives us a start. “The priest then shall take up from the grain offering its memorial portion, and shall offer it up in smoke on the altar as an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD.” We see three things: the harvest field, the grain offering from the harvest field, and the memorial portion of the grain offering.

The word memorial means remembrance. The name Zechariah has the same root. The name means God’s memorial or memorial to God. Part of the grain offering is the memorial portion given as God’s memorial. This part of the harvest is a memorial to God. Remember here the words of Jesus. “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field” (Matthew 13:24). “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few” (Matthew 9:37). Christ likens the advance of his kingdom to work in a harvest field.

Isaiah connects the harvest field and the grain offering. Isaiah predicts those working in the harvest field “shall bring all your brethren from all the nations as a grain offering to the LORD.” Isaiah goes on to say that Gentiles will be brought into the church “just as the sons of Israel bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the LORD” (Isaiah 66:20). In other words, converts brought into the church are like grain offerings brought from the harvest field. These converts confess their faith in the church and become memorials to the work of God.

The apostle Paul speaks of his own work in these terms. The apostle desired “to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God, so that my offering of the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:16). Following Isaiah, Paul saw himself as a priest who offered Gentile converts to God like a grain offering.

Leviticus 2:13 adds, “Every grain offering of yours, moreover, you shall season with salt, so that the salt of the covenant of your God shall not be lacking from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.” Salt preserves and flavors. The covenant is the relationship God affects with His people through Christ. The salt of the covenant is the flavorful preserving power of the covenant of grace. Converts offered to God like grain offerings are seasoned with the grace of God’s covenant. They also experience God’s preserving covenantal power.

Finally, Leviticus 2:15 then says, “You shall then put oil on it and lay incense on it; it is a grain offering.” Oil is a symbol of the Spirit. Psalm 141:2 relates prayer and incense. “May my prayer be counted as incense before You.” Converts offered to God like grain offerings are mixed with the oil of the Spirit and poured over with prayer.

Recall these grain offerings must accompany the whole burnt offering. Based upon the sacrifice of Christ, the converts you present to God to be living memorials are your grain offerings. The most important may be your own children. People like you and your children are the grain offerings, seasoned with the salt of the covenant, anointed with the oil of the Spirit, and mixed with prayer. Leviticus two speaks about you. Yes, you are the grain offerings. You are offered up to God as a memorial to God’s good work and power through Christ.

Denny Prutow

Old Testament Sin Offerings and the Sacrifice of Christ

2018-10-13T16:15:45+00:00 October 1st, 2018|

Leviticus four brings us to the sin offerings. People who sin unknowingly or unintentionally make these offerings. They are sacrifices for specific sins. These sins may be due to oversight or lack of understanding. For example, you tell the truth (Exodus 20:16); but you state your case unkindly (1 Corinthians 13:4). You also express hatred for your adversary and call him a fool (Matthew 5:22). You subsequently realize your sin.

When David sinned with Bathsheba and had Uriah murdered, he sinned intentionally. The penalty for both these sins was death (Deuteronomy 22:22, Numbers 35:17). No sin offering sufficed. David could only cast himself on the mercy of God. Here the sins are less flagrant. Yet the worshiper must acknowledge them, repent of them, and seek God’s forgiveness. Worshipers do this through sin offerings.

Like the burnt offerings, the worshiper lays his hands on the head of the sacrifice confessing his sin. Thus, he symbolically transfers his sin to the sacrifice (Leviticus 4:4). Then, “the priest shall put some of the blood upon the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the LORD” (Leviticus 4:7). Much like the peace offerings, the priest also places the fat portions and volatile internal organs on the altar of burnt offering (Leviticus 4:8-10).

“But the hide of the bull and all its flesh with its head and its legs and its entrails and its refuse, that is, all the rest of the bull, he is to bring out to a clean place outside the camp where the ashes are poured out, and burn it on wood with fire; where the ashes are poured out it shall be burned” (Leviticus 4:11-12).

There are clear connections with Christ. “The bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore, Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate” (Hebrews 13:11-12). The sin offering speaks about Christ.

In Psalm 141:2, David cries out to God, “May my prayer be counted as incense before You.” David is a type of Christ. The incense on this altar is prayer. Specifically, the incense pictures the prayers of Christ. Revelation 8:3-4 gives us further guidance. “Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand.”

Christ therefore adds His prayers to those of the saints and presents them before the Father in perfection. Augustine likened this to a young child bringing a disheveled bouquet to his father. Mom intervenes and arranges the bouquet making it beautiful and acceptable to the father. So Christ makes our prayers acceptable to the Father in heaven. He does so on the basis of His sacrifice outside the gate.

All this points to Christ, your advocate. “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). You regularly sin in thought, word, and deed. You should flee to Christ and present your sin offerings. That is, you should seek God’s forgiveness. Remember, Christ represents you before the Father. Because of His sacrifice outside the gate, God the Father accepts your prayers and grants you forgiveness. Hallelujah.

Denny Prutow

Old Testament Peace Offerings and the Sacrifice of Christ

2018-09-20T11:21:32+00:00 September 24th, 2018|

The whole burnt offerings of Leviticus one are the basic offerings of the ceremonial law. God required them daily, morning and evening (Exodus 29:38-42, Numbers 28:1-8), and doubled on the Sabbath (Numbers 28:9-10). These whole burnt offerings directed attention to the work of Christ, His giving Himself as a propitiation for the sins of His people (Leviticus 1:4, 1 John 2:2 and 4:10). The grain offerings accompanied and were given on the basis of the whole burnt offerings (Leviticus 2). More on the grain offerings later.

The next offerings Moses outlines in Leviticus are Peace offerings (Leviticus 3). These too are blood offerings. After slaying the animal, the fat parts and volatile internal organs, such as the kidneys and liver, were put on the altar. Leviticus 3:5 indicates a particular procedure. “Then Aaron’s sons shall offer it up in smoke on the altar on the burnt offering, which is on the wood that is on the fire; it is an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD.”

The priests placed the peace offering on the burnt offering which was on the wood on the altar. Catch the significance. The basis and foundation for peace with God is the prior atonement or propitiation of Christ. The apostle Paul captures this image in Romans 5:1, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

There were three types of peace offerings, the thanksgiving (Leviticus 7:12 and 15), votive, and freewill offerings (Leviticus 7:16). Worshipers brought votive offerings upon the fulfillment of a vow (Leviticus 22:21). Freewill offerings were special gifts and contributions (Exodus 36:3). In the thanksgiving offerings, worshipers gave special thanksgiving to the Lord (Leviticus 7:12). These three offerings gave opportunity to celebrate the peace with God men and women were actually experiencing

Peace offerings were unique in that worshipers partook of the offerings. God reminded them, “It shall be eaten on the day of his offering” (Leviticus 7:15, 16; 19:6; 22:30). Peace offerings therefore included fellowship meals based upon the atoning work of the Savior portrayed in the whole burnt offering (Leviticus 3:5).

The counterpart is the communion table. The apostle Paul makes this connection with several rhetorical questions. “Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread. Look at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar?” (1 Corinthians 10:16-18). When you come to the communion table and partake of the sacrifice of Christ by faith, you celebrate the peace you have with God and the forgiveness you have before God because of what Christ has done for you.

The New Testament more particularly connects us to the thanksgiving peace offerings. The words “sacrifice of thanksgiving” (Leviticus 7:12) translate to “sacrifice of praise” in both the Hebrew and Greek Old Testaments. The writer to the Hebrews picks up these very words in speaking of our praise to God. “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15). When you sing praise to God you are offering up your thanksgiving peace offerings.

In praise and in communion you therefore stand connected to ancient Israel. However, you are in a much better position. You do not have the shadow of the things to come. You have the substance. You have Christ.

Denny Prutow

Is the Lord Among Us?

2018-09-12T09:56:34+00:00 September 17th, 2018|

Speaking of the people of Israel in the wilderness, the apostle Paul tells us they “all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:3-4).

With regard to the rock, the apostle has two incidents in mind. The first is near the beginning of the wilderness journey. The people were thirsty. After a great salvation from bondage in Egypt and passing through the sea, the people asked, “Is the Lord among us or not?” (Exodus 17:6). Was God really with His people? Yes. God commanded Moses, “‘Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.’ And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel” (Exodus 17:5).

Toward the end of their journey, the people again grumbled because of thirst. God said to Moses, “Take the rod; and you and your brother Aaron assemble the congregation and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it may yield its water. You shall thus bring forth water for them out of the rock and let the congregation and their beasts drink” (Numbers 20:8). After a long journey, Moses was exasperated. “Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?” (Numbers 20:11). We empathize with him. “Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank” (Numbers 20:12).

Paul recalls these incidents, at the beginning and at the end of the forty year journey, for a purpose. It is as though the rock from which the people originally drank followed them through the desert. It was there at the beginning of the journey. It was there at the end of the journey.

Paul says, “the rock was Christ.” This is metaphorical language. Metaphors are implied comparisons. Metaphors, allegories, and symbols are analogous. Paul sees the rock as a symbol of the presence of the Lord with the people. Remember this challenge. “Is the Lord among us or not?” Remember too, Paul taught and we believe “Jesus is Lord” (Romans 10:9).

The water was spiritual drink because its origin was heaven. The rock was a spiritual rock because the physical rock from which water sprang, symbolized the true rock, Jesus Christ. Our Lord makes the same connection. The Feast of Tabernacles remembered Israel’s wilderness journey. “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink’” (John 7:37).

Finally, Paul formally compares the wilderness experience of Israel with the life of the church in this world. “Now these things happened to them as an example [typically]” (1 Corinthians 10:11). Jesus Christ was with His people in the wilderness. This was God’s covenant promise. “I will make My dwelling among you,” and “I will also walk among you” (Leviticus 26:11-12).

Jesus Christ is with His church, in the wilderness of this world, today. This is particularly true when we gather for worship. Jesus Christ, our spiritual rock, is present to give us spiritual drink to sustain us in the journey of life. Unlike Israel, we should not ask, “Is the Lord among us?” He covenants with us to meet us and to feed us. We should gather in worship expecting to meet with Him and to be fed by Him.

Denny Prutow

Old Testament Sacrifices and the Sacrifice of Christ

2018-09-12T09:57:50+00:00 September 10th, 2018|

The first chapters of the Book of Leviticus speak of the sacrifices and offerings God required of Israel. Because these offerings were part of the ceremonial law, they bear typological significance. That is, they point forward to Christ and His work on behalf of sinners. The first and most basic sacrifice is the whole burnt offering. Leviticus 1:4 says of the one bringing this offering, “He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, that it may be accepted for him to make atonement on his behalf.” The ceremony denotes the imputation of sins to the sacrifice or the placing of sins on the sacrifice. The sacrifice is then butchered and skinned. The priest then sprinkles the blood of the sacrifice around the altar of burnt offering. Then the priest places the animal on the altar. It is completely consumed by the fire except for the skin.

We should note at least three significant things about this sacrifice. The first is the matter of atonement. The idea here is that of propitiation. The sacrifice suffers the fiery wrath of God for sin in the place of the sinner. In this way there is covering of sin. The apostle John tells us the Jesus Christ is “Himself the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:2). Christ suffers the wrath of God for sin on the cross. This is why He cries out in agony, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:48). Christ bore this wrath for sin and the sting of being forsaken by His Father’s love for the likes of us. He did so in order that those of us who believe in Him would never bear such wrath and never be constrained to make such a cry.

Second, we see the idea of imputation is integral to the ceremony and integral to sacrifice it portrays. Sin is placed on the sacrifice. The sacrifice therefore bears the punishment due to the sinner for the sin. The apostle Peter shows us the similarity with Christ. “He Himself bore our sins in his body on the cross” (1 Peter 2:24). This text tells us Christ took our sins to Himself. He bore those sins as a burden up to and on the cross. This is the idea of imputation. As a result, Christ suffers great agony and dies a terrible death for the likes of us. He takes what we deserve.

Third, imputation is double. Sin is placed upon the sacrifice. In the ceremony, the clothing of the sacrifice, the skin, goes to the priest. “The priest who presents any man’s burnt offering, that priest shall have for himself the skin of the burnt offering which he has presented” (Leviticus 7:8). The skin is not burned but preserved and used. The apostle Paul gives us the lesson. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthian 5:21). The animal presented for sacrifice is without blemish. The skin is without blemish or perfect. This is the picture. The reality is that God clothes us with the unblemished righteousness of our sacrifice, Jesus Christ.

Leviticus presents the gospel. Hebrews 4:2 compares us to ancient Israel. “For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.” God forbid that we should not grasp in faith the glorious gospel proclaimed in both the Old and the New Testaments.

Denny Prutow