Saturday, December 30, 2017

Exodus 26:7-37 comments: more on the tabernacle

26:7 ¶  And thou shalt make curtains of goats’ hair to be a covering upon the tabernacle: eleven curtains shalt thou make. 8  The length of one curtain shall be thirty cubits, and the breadth of one curtain four cubits: and the eleven curtains shall be all of one measure. 9  And thou shalt couple five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves, and shalt double the sixth curtain in the forefront of the tabernacle. 10  And thou shalt make fifty loops on the edge of the one curtain that is outmost in the coupling, and fifty loops in the edge of the curtain which coupleth the second. 11  And thou shalt make fifty taches of brass, and put the taches into the loops, and couple the tent together, that it may be one. 12  And the remnant that remaineth of the curtains of the tent, the half curtain that remaineth, shall hang over the backside of the tabernacle. 13  And a cubit on the one side, and a cubit on the other side of that which remaineth in the length of the curtains of the tent, it shall hang over the sides of the tabernacle on this side and on that side, to cover it. 14  And thou shalt make a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red, and a covering above of badgers’ skins.

While there is most certainly spiritual significance to the specific numbers listed in the measurements of the parts of the tabernacle I want to stick with what is clear and apparent for now.

    26:15 ¶  And thou shalt make boards for the tabernacle of shittim wood standing up. 16  Ten cubits shall be the length of a board, and a cubit and a half shall be the breadth of one board. 17  Two tenons shall there be in one board, set in order one against another: thus shalt thou make for all the boards of the tabernacle. 18  And thou shalt make the boards for the tabernacle, twenty boards on the south side southward. 19  And thou shalt make forty sockets of silver under the twenty boards; two sockets under one board for his two tenons, and two sockets under another board for his two tenons. 20  And for the second side of the tabernacle on the north side there shall be twenty boards: 21  And their forty sockets of silver; two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board. 22  And for the sides of the tabernacle westward thou shalt make six boards. 23  And two boards shalt thou make for the corners of the tabernacle in the two sides. 24  And they shall be coupled together beneath, and they shall be coupled together above the head of it unto one ring: thus shall it be for them both; they shall be for the two corners. 25  And they shall be eight boards, and their sockets of silver, sixteen sockets; two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board. 26  And thou shalt make bars of shittim wood; five for the boards of the one side of the tabernacle, 27  And five bars for the boards of the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the side of the tabernacle, for the two sides westward. 28  And the middle bar in the midst of the boards shall reach from end to end. 29  And thou shalt overlay the boards with gold, and make their rings of gold for places for the bars: and thou shalt overlay the bars with gold. 30  And thou shalt rear up the tabernacle according to the fashion thereof which was shewed thee in the mount.
26:31 ¶  And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made: 32  And thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, upon the four sockets of silver. 33  And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy. 34  And thou shalt put the mercy seat upon the ark of the testimony in the most holy place. 35  And thou shalt set the table without the vail, and the candlestick over against the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south: and thou shalt put the table on the north side. 36  And thou shalt make an hanging for the door of the tent, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework. 37  And thou shalt make for the hanging five pillars of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, and their hooks shall be of gold: and thou shalt cast five sockets of brass for them.

There is a veil, and vail and veil are two spellings of the same word, to be placed between the holy place and the most holy place where the ark of the testimony was kept.
This is a division between God and man.
1Timothy 6:13 ¶  I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; 14  That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: 15  Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; 16  Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.  
When God in the form of man, Jesus Christ, died for mankind’s sins on the Cross, the veil in Herod’s version of the temple was ripped.

Matthew 27:51  And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

Mark 15:38  And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.

Luke 23:45  And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.

This veil also symbolizes the division between Jews and the Gentiles who did not know the God who created them.

Ephesians 2:11 ¶  Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12  That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13  But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.  
14 ¶  For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15  Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16  And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17  And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18  For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
So, there is this division between God and mankind as symbolized by the veil between the holy and most holy. This division was torn by Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross.
Another interesting phrase that is used repeatedly in the Bible is over against. It appears to mean not only near but next to and across from based on the context.
Genesis 21:16  And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept.
Exodus 25:27  Over against the border shall the rings be for places of the staves to bear the table.
1Kings 20:29  And they pitched one over against the other seven days. And so it was, that in the seventh day the battle was joined: and the children of Israel slew of the Syrians an hundred thousand footmen in one day.

Certainly, you can find more interesting and significant meanings and analogies in these passages than I have. Let me know what you find.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Exodus 26:1-6 comments: instructions for the tabernacle

26:1 ¶  Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work shalt thou make them. 2  The length of one curtain shall be eight and twenty cubits, and the breadth of one curtain four cubits: and every one of the curtains shall have one measure. 3  The five curtains shall be coupled together one to another; and other five curtains shall be coupled one to another. 4  And thou shalt make loops of blue upon the edge of the one curtain from the selvedge in the coupling; and likewise shalt thou make in the uttermost edge of another curtain, in the coupling of the second. 5  Fifty loops shalt thou make in the one curtain, and fifty loops shalt thou make in the edge of the curtain that is in the coupling of the second; that the loops may take hold one of another. 6  And thou shalt make fifty taches of gold, and couple the curtains together with the taches: and it shall be one tabernacle.
What follows are detailed instructions for putting together the tabernacle. Something interesting here to begin with are the cherubims. There is a description of them in Ezekiel, chapter one, and another in Ezekiel, chapter ten, where a cherub is called a living creature.
Ezekiel 10:20  This is the living creature that I saw under the God of Israel by the river of Chebar; and I knew that they were the cherubims.
Note that as cherubims are called living creatures an angel is a presence so they are not the same in that regard either. Cherubims are not angels and angels are never said to have wings. Angels are typically the appearance of God, men, children in heaven, or churches in the context they are written.
Isaiah 63:9  In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.
It appears that, from reading Ezekiel, chapter one, and Revelation, chapter four, that they have the appearance of living creatures representing everything from man, to domestic animals, to wild animals, to birds. Does the difference in the number of wings between the four beasts around the throne in Revelation, who, like the seraphims in Isaiah, chapter six, have six wings while the beasts in Ezekiel have four, have any significance?
Whether they are represented as having two wings as in 1Kings 8:7 or four or six wings we must consider the obvious. They appear at different times slightly different. Six wings in Isaiah for seraphims, four in Ezekiel, and then six in Revelation although depicted over the mercy seat, two, means only that they can be depicted differently in different contexts. Ezekiel, Isaiah, and John were three different men of God who saw things that were given to them and recorded them for our learning. Do not make the mistake of reading the Bible like your car-owner’s manual. There is, however, significance in each description and numbers are interesting.

Numbers in the Bible are very significant. There are ten curtains of fine twined linen that make up the tabernacle. Ten is very significant in the Bible. Noah was the tenth generation from Creation. Of course, you’ve seen the Ten Commandments given. There were ten plagues given to Egypt. There are ten days of tribulation for saints in Revelation 2:10. There are ten kingdoms run by the Beast in Revelation with ten kings in Revelation 17:12 as symbolized in Daniel, chapter two, by the toes of the image.

There are so many tens in the Bible that you would find it a very interesting study. The number clearly represents some kind of divine order put in place by God and which man is unable to get away from in his dealings.

The length of a curtain is twenty eight cubits, or four times seven. Twenty eight or eight and twenty has its place in other contexts. Seven is significant as God’s number of completion, of perfecting or finishing a thing as in the six days of creation and the day of rest. Seven is a number that appears like no other number in the Bible. Books have been written about it.

When we think of four we think of the four gospels automatically.

Five can represent the wounds in Christ; the side pierced by a spear, the hands, and the feet. As you can see if you look at numbers there is a huge about of information that can be gleaned from their study. However, you can wind up lost in an occultic numerology that takes you away from the literal words in the text as you become obsessed with the symbolic that is very subjective. When something has to be interpreted for you beware of the interpreter. Satan loves to deceive.

While there are a great many other and, perhaps, more important observations one could make on this passage I want to try to keep the digressions to a minimum to keep the narrative moving.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Exodus 25:31-40 comments: make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount.

25:31 ¶  And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same. 32  And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side: 33  Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick. 34  And in the candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers. 35  And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick. 36  Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold. 37  And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it. 38  And the tongs thereof, and the snuffdishes thereof, shall be of pure gold. 39  Of a talent of pure gold shall he make it, with all these vessels. 40  And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount.
Much is made of the word candlestick by skeptics. Modern Bible translators choose to translate the word as lampstand. This is the definition Strong gave it. In the era of the translation of the King James Bible, the Authorized Version, on which we rely, a candlestick was simply, “an instrument to bear a candle,” as in Thomas Wilson’s 1612 A Christian Dictionary. (21) Some sources state that the word, lampstand, came in use in English around the mid-1800s. So, it would not have been available to the translators. Candlestick is entirely appropriate if you regard the cross-references and review the Hebrew word, which is in use today, the menorah.
Knop is another word over which people stumble. A knop is a decorative knob at the top of something. It can be the ornamental top or capital of a pillar designed to distribute the weight placed directly on the pillar. Think of the opening at the top of a candle holder where the candle fits in and the part of the menorah just under that cup. If I’m not mistaken this would be the meaning of the knop.
There are six branches from the centerpiece and seven lamps. Candlesticks play an important part in prophecy as this candlestick will represent actual historical churches and types of churches in Christianity.
Zechariah 4:1 ¶  And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, 2  And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: 3  And two olive trees by it, one
upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. 4  So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? 5  Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. 6  Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto
Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. 7  Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. 8  Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 9  The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of
this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. 10  For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.

    11 ¶  Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? 12  And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? 13  And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said,
No, my lord. 14  Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.

Revelation 1:9 ¶  I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. 10  I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, 11  Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. 12  And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 13  And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. 14  His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 15  And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. 16  And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. 17  And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: 18  I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. 19  Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; 20  The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

God has shown Moses, visibly, how these things are to be made. He has shown him the pattern.

Hebrews 8:5  Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.

(21) Ian Lancashire, ed., Lexicons of Early Modern English (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2017),

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Exodus 25:23-30 comments: thoughts on the shewbread

    25:23 ¶  Thou shalt also make a table of shittim wood: two cubits shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. 24  And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, and make thereto a crown of gold round about. 25  And thou shalt make unto it a border of an hand breadth round about, and thou shalt make a golden crown to the border thereof round about. 26  And thou shalt make for it four rings of gold, and put the rings in the four corners that are on the four feet thereof. 27  Over against the border shall the rings be for places of the staves to bear the table. 28  And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, that the table may be borne with them. 29  And thou shalt make the dishes thereof, and spoons thereof, and covers thereof, and bowls thereof, to cover withal: of pure gold shalt thou make them. 30  And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before me alway.
There was to be this table of shewbread set before the Lord at all times. This represents the communion that God wishes to have with His people in their hearts. We are to be in constant communication and fellowship with our Creator.
Romans 12:12b  …continuing instant in prayer;
1Thessalonians 5:17  Pray without ceasing.
It is of great importance to keep one’s mind focused on God.
Isaiah 26:3  Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
And there is a future event that this idea of communion with God signifies, in my mind.
Revelation 19:9  And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
In symbolism that the Bible gives us bread is compared to God’s words. See the contrast here between being without bread and being without the words of God.
Amos 8:11  Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:
Words and food are contrasted in other places. For instance,
Job 34:3  For the ear trieth words, as the mouth tasteth meat.
And Christ is likened to bread.
John 6:35  And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
Whereas the priests were supposed to eat of this bread…
Matthew 12:4  How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?
…the believer is a type of priest…
1Peter 2:5  Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ…9  But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light…

…and we partake of communion with God symbolically memorializing Christ’s death with bread representing His body, broken on the Cross…

1Corinthians 11:26  For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

So, there are a lot of symbols associated with bread and I think many sermons could be made about the shewbread in the sanctuary and bread in general as representing our communion with God, Christ as the bread of life, God’s words as bread, and other representations that I have missed here. Of course, there is always the risk of taking a type or symbol too far.
The main point is that the shewbread continually set before God and eaten by the priests represents God’s desire to commune with mankind, one of His apparently prime motivations in His ministry of reconciling sinful man to Himself, the main theme of the Bible.
Why do I say that this is the main theme of the Bible? Well, you will find mention of Heaven in the Bible but not have all of your questions answered about it. You will find mention of science, history, philosophy, and other topics referred to in the Bible but never have all the answers you need. There is no wedding ceremony for Christians, no orders on how we are to conduct church services, no funeral ceremony. We are not told how to conduct the minutiae of living from day to day in the Bible. What we will be doing in eternity or in the millennial reign of Christ even is not completely explained. However, God’s work in drawing man to Himself is thoroughly and clearly laid out for us to see. The Bible is the revelation of God’s efforts at providing a way to be saved from the eternity of death man has chosen. By necessity we learn about God’s nature, His power, His love, His desire for us, and the response of many to Him, favorable and unfavorable, from the words in this book as He reveals His actions toward us.
You will search the Bible for definitive answers on many topics but be frustrated by the lack of information and how topics are dismissed with a casual reference. For example great men of history are given short shrift. Alexander the Great gets a mention as the prince of Grecia and many others are completely ignored. This is why preachers try to make the Bible say things it does not say, because they are looking for answers in it that it does not provide because they are not its subject. The subject of the Bible is God’s ministry of reconciling mankind to Himself and in doing so it provides the key to our salvation. But, it does not tell you how to conduct Wednesday night prayer meeting or even if you must have one. We need to quit misrepresenting God like Job’s friends and twisting the text like taffy to make it mean something that matters to us but just isn’t there.

That being said, you can find yourself in every verse, and God has something to tell you in every passage. We need to be open to the Holy Spirit’s leading. What a verse means to you spiritually and practically may not be what it means to me. Obviously, the Hebrews of the twelfth century BC would see this passage differently than you or I would today in many respects. We have the complete revelation of God’s ministry of reconciling mankind to Himself although we await its final fulfillment. Think about what knowledge and understanding they would have had at that time.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Exodus 25:10-22 comments: the ark of the testimony

10 ¶  And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. 11  And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about. 12  And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it. 13  And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. 14  And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them. 15  The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it. 16  And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee. 17  And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof. 18  And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. 19  And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. 20  And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. 21  And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. 22  And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.
A cubit, according to some authorities, was a measurement that extended from a man’s elbow to his fingertips. There are different cubits in the Bible. There is the cubit of a man which may allow for some estimations without an absolute and precise standard based on the differences in the sizes of men’s forearms.
Deuteronomy 3:11  For only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of giants; behold, his bedstead was a bedstead of iron; is it not in Rabbath of the children of Ammon? nine cubits was the length thereof, and four cubits the breadth of it, after the cubit of a man.
But, there could be a more exacting measurement of a cubit that wasn’t dependent upon the length of an individual’s forearm. See in the next verse a measuring reed of a specific length to measure by.
Ezekiel 40:5 ¶  And behold a wall on the outside of the house round about, and in the man’s hand a measuring reed of six cubits long by the cubit and an hand breadth: so he measured the breadth of the building, one reed; and the height, one reed.
If the standard cubit was 18 inches long, as some say, then the Ark of the Covenant was nearly four foot long but a little over two foot wide and two foot tall. Of course, a longer cubit of, say, 22 inches, means a bigger Ark. It could have been nearly five foot long and nearly three foot wide and tall.
Going on to describe the covering of gold and the rings and staves by which the ark of the testimony was carried it is stated that God is going to give something to Moses to store in it.  The mercy seat with two winged cherubims on each end was to adorn the top facing each other. It is there that God chose to meet with Moses, to speak to him from, in the tabernacle.
We see here the definition of the ark of the testimony as the place where all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel will be stored and protected.
The ark of the testimony and its description contains good teaching material for many sermons as, like our hearts and minds, a place to hide God’s word, and as a token, as Matthew Henry put it, of God’s meeting with us. The ark of the testimony is like the believer’s heart and mind, complete with God’s word hid inside and the mercy seat where, if God truly dwells in your heart by virtue of your being born again, God meets with you.
Psalm 119:11  Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
We are God’s temple, remember?
1Corinthians 3:16 ¶  Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
1Corinthians 6:19  What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
If we have the Spirit of God inside of us.
John 14:23  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.
Romans 8:9  But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
The kingdom of God that Jesus refers to is not a Christian nation with armies and parliaments and policemen and fine church buildings. It is within the believers uniting them as Christ’s church, His body on earth.
Luke 17:20 ¶  And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21  Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Colossians 1:12 ¶  Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13  Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14  In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15  Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16  For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17  And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18  And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19  For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; 20  And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21  And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22  In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: 23  If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; 24  Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church…

This is how the God of the Bible meets with His people today as opposed to how He met with Moses and the Hebrews here in Exodus. That is, if you are truly His and didn’t just repeat a magic mantra that someone gave you after emotionally manipulating you.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Prayer - sermon notes - given at Antioch 1611 Baptist Church on 12.17.2017

Genesis 32:24 ¶  And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. 25  And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. 26  And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. 27  And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. 28  And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. 29  And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. 30  And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. 31  And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh. 32  Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew that shrank.

Pray for help from God to preach..

We do not know until later that when God appeared to or walked with a person in the Old Testament it was the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word by which all things were created, the second part of God called the Son of God, the physical image of God’s person (Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:15). He is in other places called the angel of God or the angel of the Lord, the meaning of an angel being an appearance of someone who is also somewhere else, which we see in Genesis, chapters 16, 21, 22, 31.

Isaiah 63:9  In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them…

God walked with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:8). He spoke to Noah (Genesis 6). He appeared to Abraham (Genesis 12, 17, 18). He appeared to Isaac (Genesis 26). God spoke to Jacob in a dream (Genesis 31). Here, God in the form of a man, which would be the preincarnate Jesus Christ, confronts Jacob when he is alone. They have this colossal wrestling contest. Wrestling is perhaps the oldest combat sport known to man.

Wrestling is mentioned in the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, in Greek mythology, in Hindu, and Persian writings. It is depicted on very ancient cave art in Mongolia and on Egyptian tombs. Preachers have long played out this scene as an example of contending with God in prayer for something that you want.

Paul says that we contend against spiritual beings that inhabit the spaces above us.

Ephesians 6:12  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

While any wrestling we do is spiritual in prayer and fighting our flesh THIS was a bonafide physical wrestling match in the flesh, at least for Jacob anyway. I would be careful talking about wrestling with God in prayer. We do not get things from God by trying to pin Him down in prayer or forcing something from Him. God’s mercy does not come to us through our force. That’s a pagan ideal where magicians of Ancient Egypt and in India would threaten the gods if they did not respond to the magicians’ enchantments. See what we are told.

Ephesians 6:18  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Philippians 4:6  Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

The promises offered to us are not awards we win in a fight with God.

Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Ephesians 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

We receive these things by trusting in Christ’s resurrection.

Romans 10:9  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

And by believing what Jesus said about Himself in John 14, that He is the only way to God and that He is in fact the image of God the Father. In John 3:36 believing on Christ is defined as believing what He said.

John 3:36  He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

So, in;

Acts 16:31  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

This grappling match in Genesis was a unique event for Jacob, not you. There is no athletic contest with God involved for us. If there is a wrestling match, it is between you and your flesh or spiritual beings that oppose you. But, what we can say here with certainty is a principle of holding on to God and not letting go, which some of us have done, unfortunately. We need to understand in all ways and at all times that it is God who is in control of our destiny. There is no war with Satan, who can do nothing without God’s permission, and no ransom paid to Satan for our souls, as the ransom is paid to God by God. See Exodus 30:12 and Psalm 49:7.

Exodus 30:12  When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the LORD, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them.

Psalm 49:7  None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him:

But, as the parable of the friend pleading with his friend for food in Luke 11 and the parable of the unrighteous judge in Luke 18, it is expected that we will be persistent in prayer and not give up.

Luke 11:1 ¶  And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. 2  And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. 3  Give us day by day our daily bread. 4  And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. 5  And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; 6  For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? 7  And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. 8  I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. 9  And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 10  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 11  If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 12  Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

Luke 18:1 ¶  And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; 2  Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: 3  And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. 4  And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 5  Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. 6  And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7  And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 8  I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

To make this a spiritual principle we have to understand that God OFTEN makes Himself apparent to us in reality for nothing happens that is not either caused by God or permitted by God; no cell function, not a beat of your heart, or not even sickness and death.

 For instance, someone you love is sick, very sick. You pray fervently for their release from the bondage of sickness. It means a lot to you that they get well. Do not, “let go,” but pray fervently, fast if you are led to by the spiritual and emotional urgency of the situation, but understand you may be wounded in the process, like Jacob, a wound you carry with you for the rest of your life. It may be God’s will that the one you love must go to Him. But, your persistence and sincerity will result in a blessing and you will be changed by the, “struggle.” This is just one example of possible applications and preachers have come up with many others.

Jacob holds on and refuses to let go until God blesses him. He is given the name Israel which typically is said to mean "God prevails" or "God contends" but here the meaning in context ironically refers to Jacob prevailing with God. Jacob demands that his opponent tell him His name. But, there is no need. Jacob knows with whom his encounter has been. Peniel and Penuel are two spellings of the same word. There may be another reason but one reason for including both spellings is the question among Jewish authorities regarding the spelling, I have read. Both mean ‘to see God face to face.’ Who then has Jacob wrestled with?

John 14:9  Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?
Hebrews 1:3  Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

Colossians 1:15a  Who is the image of the invisible God…

Those who trust in Christ’s righteousness and realize they are spiritually bankrupt and destitute on their own shall see God face to face. They are made clean and pure by Christ. (see Job 11:4; Psalm 24:4; and Proverbs 20:9 for pure as clean.)

Matthew 5:3 ¶  Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven….8  Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

(The preparation of a heart to receive Christ is found in Psalms and Isaiah, among other places.

Psalm 34:18  The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

Isaiah 66:2  For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.)

Jacob will carry with him, in his limp, a reminder of a very close encounter with the living God. He has had impressed upon him the unseen power of God in the company of angels he met. He has been impressed with the immediacy of God in his life with the encounter with the pre-incarnate Christ. 
These are two things that should give us pause as we face uncertain events ahead in our lives. There is invisible to us a great host which God can and will use for His purposes and God Himself does not only meet us in close encounters but His very Spirit dwells inside of us by virtue of the faith He gave us when we believed. (i.e.; Romans 3:22; 8:9.)

We need to be persistent in prayer, to hang on, acknowledge God’s sovereignty and His authority and His power. We may not get what we want and we may be wounded and carry the emotional scars with us for life but holding on to God is what is needed and never letting go, not even for an instant. Prayer is our verbal communication with God. We are helpless, needy, unable, and weak in the face of life’s inevitable pain and suffering.

C.S. Lewis, a famous Christian philosopher and writer from England, was watching the woman he loved die. In the movie, Shadowlands, based on a book about his experience, a friend says to him when he thinks, wrongly as it eventually turns out, if I remember correctly, that Joy Davidman, the woman, is in remission from cancer or even cured, “I know how hard you’ve been praying. And now, God is answering your prayer.” But, C.S. Lewis replies in the negative, “That’s not why I pray. I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because the need flows out of me, all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.”

King David committed a horrible sin in the murder of Uriah the Hittite to cover-up that David had gotten the man’s wife pregnant. But, that child would not survive this sin. This passage begins with the prophet, Nathan, speaking.

2Samuel 12:14  Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.

    15 ¶  And Nathan departed unto his house. And the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare unto David, and it was very sick. 16  David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth. 17  And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them. 18  And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead: for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him, and he would not hearken unto our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead? 19  But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead. 20  Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat. 21  Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread. 22  And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? 23  But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.

These two men were wounded in their encounter with God in prayer for these specific things. Their prayers were not answered in the affirmative. The answer was not yes. It was no. What happened was the answer. But, they held on.

Monica was born in the year 332 in Tagaste, North Africa. Monica had a conversion experience at a very young age and lived a life of virtue after being a brat.

When she reached a marriageable age, her parents gave her in marriage to a non-Christian man named Patricius. Monica’s husband Patricius, not only came home drunk each day but had a violent temper and Monica was often the victim of his rage. Patricius was not a faithful husband and therefore, Monica’s life was full of trials and pain.

Monica endured all her trials with patience, gentleness and kindness. She would daily pray for the conversion of her husband, even though he would oppose her Christian practices. Her strong faith and hope in God’s mercy finally payed off. Patricius accepted his wife’s faith a year before his death. He admitted that he admired his wife’s strong faith and it was her unwavering kindness towards him that changed him.

Augustine, Monica’s son, was seventeen when his father died.

Monica and Patricius had three children out of whom Augustine was the son who was to give his mother the worst heart aches.

Augustine was brilliant in his studies and therefore was sent to Carthage, so he could develop his talents and become a man of culture. Although he excelled in his studies, his behaviour became unacceptable to his mother. Not only that he went into lose living with women, alcohol and addictions of all kinds, but also he got involved with a cult called Manichaeism. One could only imagine the anguish of this poor mother, Monica.

Monica never gave up her prayers for her son. She would fast, cry and beg God for her son’s conversion. Monica would approach the local bishop and ask them to win her son over to the faith.
The Bishop would often console her saying, “God’s time will come. Go now, it is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish”. Monica was a mother who never gave up.

Finally the time came when Augustine was twenty nine a successful teacher then, had to work under the influence of Bishop Ambrose. Monica found that her son had at this stage given up Manichaeism. Monica made friends with Bishop Ambrose in order to help her son give up his current lifestyle, living with a woman, drunkenness and the like.

For her greatest Joy, Augustine not only embraced Christianity during an Easter celebration, but he decided to devote himself to God’s service. Augustine, was not only a famous Bishop, but later became one of the greatest figures of the early church. This was the result of his mother's prayers being answered. She never let go of God.

We are told to pray without ceasing in 1Thessalonians 5:17 and again the same notion is presented by saying continuing instant in prayer in Romans 12:12.

How much do you pray? How much of a need do you feel to pray? I would never say to you to come up here in front of the podium and, “do business with God.” You don’t do business with God. God is not a businessman. He is your sovereign Lord and creator who is in absolute control of your destiny. You come to God in submission, in your abject helplessness, and in fear, awe, dread, and amazement at His power, His mercy, and His love for you, a love so great that He came to live in a body like yours and even let people like you execute Him, murder Him on a wooden cross, naked, exposed to the shame and the ridicule of people much like yourselves. Then, He rose from the dead so that by trusting in His life and death and resurrection you could have eternal life with Him.

Pray without ceasing.

 Jacob wrestled all night. Have you ever had a burden that led you to pray for hours? I remember the Navigator’s class at the Southern Baptist church Beth and I attended together for 20 years. One of our assignments one night was to find a part of the building where we could be alone and just pray the entire time. It was an eye-opening exercise as you realize how little time you devote to prayer.

John Wesley is credited with starting the Methodist Church. Some writers claim he prayed two hours every morning. George Muller claimed to have over 5000 requests answered by God on the day Muller made them. He started over a hundred schools and founded orphanages where he cared for 10,000 boys. You’re not being asked to be or guilted into being a Wesley or a Muller.  You are not being asked to perform like the Byzantine Empire’s ‘Sleepless Monks’ who prayed in 8 hour shifts around the clock.

But, God wants a very specific relationship with His people.

Micah 6:8  He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

And He helps us when we don’t know how to put our heart’s concerns into words.

Romans 8:26 ¶  Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27  And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

So, what I’m encouraging you to do is to pray more, to pray often, to pray fervently. Pray with your spouse, your children, and your grand-children. Do you pray with your spouse every day? One reason I wouldn’t make a good Pastor is because if a couple came to me and said they were having problems and I found out they didn’t pray together every day I’d tell them to do that for a few months and then come back to me if they still had their problem. Of course, I would not be very popular because people like that pagan, pastoral counseling regime that became popular in the 1920s. You know, here’s five things you can say or do to your spouse every day, leave love notes laying around, etc., blah, blah, blah.

Be devoted to prayer. Hold onto God. God speaks to His people through His words in His book. Now, you speak to Him with your heart, your lips, and your mind.

Hebrews 13:15  By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

Do you have little peace in your life? Are you constantly worried and fretful like me? Are you always second-guessing yourself and wondering what you could have done to make things work out differently than they did in your life?

Colossians 3:15  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

Isaiah 26:3  Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Are you a worrier like me? I’ve always said worrying works because 95% of the things I worry about never happen so it must be a good thing, huh. But we are told differently. Care-ful means full of care, that is worry.

Philippians 4:6  Be careful for nothing; [don’t worry about anything] but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

A fretful heart is not a thankful heart. It is not a heart that realizes that what has happened is the only way it could have happened because that’s the way it happened. You can do nothing about what has happened. Don’t put your hand to the plow and look over your shoulder. Your best time with God is ahead of you and it is right now.

1Thessalonians 5:18  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Preachers often say that they preach their sermons to themselves first. Prayer, or the lack of it in frequency and intensity, is something that I am lacking so this sermon came to mind, or if I may presume on God, God laid it on my heart because of my deficiency.
I am encouraging you to pray more.

Jesus took time to go apart and pray to God the Father. He is our example.

Luke 5:16  And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.

Luke 6:12 ¶  And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.

And He gave His followers strict instructions on the conditions under which they should pray.

Matthew 6:5 ¶  And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6  But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. 7  But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8  Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

Prayer is a personal worship of God, an acknowledgment of who He is and of His sovereignty over us and all things. From the Old Testament;

Hosea 14:2  Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips.

Psalm 141:2  Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

And Paul’s words;

Hebrews 13:15  By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

Remember who we are speaking to and totally dependent upon.

Matthew 28:18  And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

Again, I’ll repeat Paul’s statement and encourage you to engage God with deliberation, with intent, and with expectation. Never pray and not expect something to happen, even if it is only a change in your heart.

Hebrews 4:16  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Closing prayer. Ask someone ahead of time to pray.