The Great Peradventure

February 18, 2016 at 2:47 pm | Posted in Biblical Greats, Exodus | 8 Comments
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Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD’S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.

Exodus 32:26

“The gate of the camp” was just as significant as the location where Moses had chosen to smash the tablets. It was the official dividing line between God’s “chosen people” and just “people.” These were people who had forfeited their claim to God’s special protection and in fact had “exposed themselves” (both literally and figuratively) to God’s judgment and wrath.

Do you remember hearing or reading about the legendary incident from the Alamo when Colonel Buck Travis is said to have drawn a line in the sand to see who wanted to stay and who wanted to leave? Moses did something similar here – and the Levites made a wise choice in front of everyone. Imagine Aaron’s shame as he walked from the people over to Moses.

And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.

Exodus 32:27

Moses used classic prophetic-command speech: “Thus saith the LORD God of Israel…” = “This is God’s idea, not just mine. Get your swords, go in and out, make inquiries about who wants to stick with the idolatry and who wants to repent. Kill the ones who won’t confess and repent.” This was an observance of the legal death penalty. It didn’t matter who – their neighbors, their friends, their own family members. It sounds barbaric to us, doesn’t it? I hope you don’t want to throw out your Bible and become a liberal at this point, although, sadly, many have. You’ll have to reject the truth to do it – and you’ll also have to blame God for protecting your soul about 3000 years before you were even born. Remember, these were enemy combatants in a war – the war for truth – and those that chose to take the side of idolatry by refusing to repent are the ones who were willing to send everyone to hell for the sake of a pathetic bull-god orgy – even after waking up with their hangovers. I’m glad we don’t have to kill the apostates and the pagans today as New Testament Christians, but it would be good for us to remember that the stakes are just as high, in a sense.

And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.

Exodus 32:28

3000 executed criminals sounds like huge number, but that is just a fraction of the number that had been partying, because some of the guilty ones apparently repented and were spared.

For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves today to the LORD, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day.

Exodus 32:29

This gives more insight into how the fathers and male leaders were given an opportunity to repent and survive the Levite purge.

And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the LORD; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin.

Exodus 32:30

You can see the heaviness that was on Moses the next day, but he knew the job was not finished. He still refused to sugarcoat their sin, because he knew there are consequences to even forgiven sin. In Exodus 32:30 the Holy Spirit has recorded the words of Moses – not as a prophetic revelation – but as a heavy sighing fumbling for the right word to describe what he knows he is going to have to attempt: atonement. “Peradventure.” What a terrifically descriptive word for the man who had been in the presence of this holy God – who knew His hatred for sin – but who also knew His mercy in response to confession and prayer. “I shall make;” “at one ment.” “Maybe I can somehow bring us back into loving fellowship with our God Who we’ve offended so greatly.” I hope you can hear that word “atonement” echoing all the way through the Old Testament into the New Testament and on into your life. I myself remember the estrangement from God – the horror of knowing He was completely beyond my sinful reach – when Jesus – the Rescuer – the Atoner – the AtoneMENT – brought me to Him!

In his bold but reverent intercession on behalf of the stiffnecked and idolatrous people of Israel (Exodus 39-12:4), Moses asked God to turn aside His holy and justifiable wrath, and to show mercy. Many centuries later Jesus Christ went even further and fully satisfied God’s justice and propitiated the wrath that we deserved on the Cross of Calvary. And He is still interceding for His people at the right hand of God’s throne even today (Romans 8:33-34). The majesty of such a loving and glorious Savior makes this world’s cares, concerns, amusements, and trials seem pretty small and insignificant, doesn’t it? I pray that we will live for Him all the days of our lives.

Sleeping with the Enemy

September 16, 2015 at 2:25 pm | Posted in Weeping Creeping and Sleeping with the Enemy | 2 Comments
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In a previous lesson I discussed the blessings that Phinehas somewhat surprisingly received from the Lord for his violent attack on Zimri and Cozbi. When thinking through the reasons for this it is important to remember that Phinehas, unlike so many of his compatriots, had not joined himself unto Baal, and so his thinking was not cloudy or unclear or tainted by self-interest. He was thinking like God, and therefore He had a zeal – even a violent passion – for the holiness of God

Phinehas expressed God’s wrath in an atoning way. He did not kill the offenders because Zimri had personally ticked him off. It wasn’t because he was jealous that Zimri appeared to be getting away with what he wanted to be doing. It wasn’t because Phinehas wanted to show off, or because he was a sadist who just liked a good spearing. What motivated Phinehas was his intense hatred for what Zimri’s actions said about the Lord his God, and he discerned that it was time for something extreme.

As stated in the previous lesson, though, extreme physical violence inflicted upon sinners is not commanded for New Testament Christians. A principle to be taken from Phinehas’s attitude, however, is that there is a time for something as extreme as telling the truth in actions, not just words. Too many Christians today are sleeping with the enemy – if not physically, then intellectually, practically, and even spiritually. This is seen most blatantly in the ecumenism invading Christian churches, homes, and families. An adulterated, watered-down version of the Gospel deserves pointed and harsh truth. A hybrid bastardized version of the Gospel – part Christianity and part pragmatism, right in the midst of the camp, right in the middle of a ministry that calls itself by the name of the Lord Jesus – deserves pointed and harsh truth.

When Phinehas took up his spear, it looked like it was over – like it was too late. Have we lost the battle for the truth in our culture? Is right now wrong, and wrong now right? Are there now just no such things as “right” or “truth?” This is going to sound bad, but, in a way, I hope so. I hope the battle that we’ve been trying to win in our strength is over – that we’ve lost – that it’s too late. God often comes to the rescue when all seems lost. It was too late when Phinehas stood up and executed judgment. It was too late for the Israelites, and it may be too late for us, but when it’s “too late” by our estimate, that is often when God shows up – when He sends someone with the courage and the conviction, with the disregard for popularity, to take a stand and to symbolize atonement.

Phinehas stopped the plague because God really stopped the plague. Jesus didn’t make atonement by impaling us sinners on the point of God’s wrath, although that’s what we clearly deserved. He stopped God’s wrath by offering Himself as the atoning sacrifice. Will you and I weep rightly? Will we stop creeping around with the enemy? Will we stop sleeping with the enemy? Will we get out of bed with the enemy and get on board with God? May He help us.

Beware the Fleeting Forfeiture

October 16, 2013 at 11:12 am | Posted in The Fives | Leave a comment
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Under the Old Testament Levitical system, provision was made for the atonement of sins in the form of animal sacrifices. Christian believers under the New Testament have had their sins atoned for already by the propitiating work of the Lord Jesus on the Cross. Therefore, we are prohibited from bringing any other sacrifice. However, we may still glean some principles from that which has been abolished.

Old Testament and New Testament believers alike were/are commanded to confess their sins with specificity.

And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing:

Leviticus 5:5

Our confession of guilt before God means the forfeiture, not of a lamb, a goat, a dove, or a pigeon, but the forfeiture of our pride, because “confession” means that we are agreeing with God that we were wrong and He is right. The Old Testament required both sin offerings (for general areas of sinfulness) and trespass offerings (for specific violations of the Law of God). Christians certainly acknowledge their sinful condition which has been remedied only by the imputed righteousness of Christ the Lord, but we also need to get very detail-oriented in our prayers of confession and repentance, so that the Holy Spirit may help us to put aside the sins which so easily beset us. This is never easy, and it is often grievous, but the sooner we slaughter our pride on the altar of confession, the better off we will be and the sweeter our fellowship with God will be.


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