Heman and the Master of the Universe (Part Three)

February 23, 2017 at 1:36 pm | Posted in Heman and the Master of the Universe | 3 Comments
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In Psalm 88 Heman prayed openly. He prayed obstinately. And he prayed obnoxiously. Note some of the broad generalizations he used, and the self-centered assumption that God was doing His absolute worst to Heman:

For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave.

Psalm 88:3

Full?” We often feel this way when we are in extreme distress, but this is an exaggeration that attempts to disguise the fact that God truly sees to the very depths of our soul.

Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps.

Psalm 88:6

The lowest?” No matter how low we may feel, the pit of anguish in which we languish is far shallower, by God’s grace, than the one we deserve, apart from Him.

Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted [me] with all thy waves.

Psalm 88:7

All Thy waves?” No, not a one of us, from the strongest to the most faithful to the most affliction-hardened, could withstand one instant under the full tide of God’s wrathful surf. We would be obliterated. Only Christ could, and has, experienced this type of wrath in our place.

Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off.

Psalm 8:16

What Heman was truly experiencing was not the “fierce wrath” of God. What he was actually experiencing was the chastisement of His loving God, which, although no doubt severe, is done out of kindness, with the goal of correction, the way a good father disciplines his son, not out of petty anger, frustration, or perverse joy, but with the intention that the son may benefit, grow, and learn – not be “cut off.”

That Heman’s feelings, although sincere, were not valid in their extremity, is evidenced by the fact that He was still given grace to pray, and that he had the consolation of knowing that the Master of the Universe was listening.

Next time we will see that Heman also prayed obstetrically.

The Invitation to Come Closer

August 31, 2015 at 9:17 am | Posted in Hebrews | 21 Comments
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It is a wonderful and amazing thought that God would invite us to draw near to Him. We are to draw near to Him with diligence, with focused and rapt attention. Of course, even as we draw near to Him, we are also sent out from Him. Just as we are to draw near – to come to God – without doubt, we are to likewise go forth as His ambassadors – those sent by God – not with sluggishness, but with zeal and boldness.

Among the Old Testament types of the offices of Christ, which He fulfills in superior ways under His New Covenant, we have discussed the prophets, the angels, Moses himself, and Aaron. Aaron was the High Priest in the time of Moses, but Christ is the Great High Priest. Generally speaking, the people couldn’t go to Aaron the High Priest with their problems. They could, in a sense, draw near to God through him and the other Levitical priests, but, in another sense, the Law required that a wall of separation be maintained between the priests and the common people. As New Testament believers we can go directly to the Great High Priest.

Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:14-16

Christ is also superior because He is on the throne. We are allowed and encouraged and commanded to come before the throne of grace – to come boldly – but He’s still the One on the throne. Even Aaron couldn’t sit on the throne.

The Christians to whom the Book of Hebrews was originally written went through extreme persecution, but they were encouraged to confess their faith. When we fail to confess our allegiance to Christ, we don’t change His character, but we do bring reproach to His name. Hebrews 12:15 says, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God…” The grace of God will never fail us, but we must not fail the grace of God.

As we study Jesus’s role as the Great High Priest, we probably don’t see the depth of all the meaning that the 1st Century Hebrew Christians did. They understood the Levitical system of sacrifices and atonement and what the priests did in the temple better than we do. There must have been times when these saved Hebrews were really being tempted to go back to that old system, but the Holy Ghost was telling them, no, Christ is superior to that system, for the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did.

Jesus accomplished what the Law could not do in:

1. His propitiation. He satisfied and took upon Himself the wrath of God that was due to us for our sins against Him.

2. His expiation. He carried our condemnation away from us, and extinguished it in a way that was acceptable to God.

We were saved in a sense when Christ caused us to draw near enough to Him for Him to save us, not by standing aloof and trying to garner His favor or impress Him with our works. We drew near to Him by faith. When what saves you is effective, why would you want to try something else afterward? If drawing near led to salvation, then it stands to reason that the saved person can draw even nearer – that we can draw into confidence with God, into peace with God, into rest in God.

For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.

Hebrews 4:8

Here the reference is mostly likely to Moses’s general and successor, Joseph, whose name looks like “Jesus” in the Greek, but, just as Joshua had a certain day to lead the people of God into Canaan, so Jesus is a better Joshua. He is the means to the rest that still remains for the children of God.

Big Words of the Christian Life: Propitiation

March 11, 2010 at 11:35 am | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 21 Comments
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Here are three Big Words of the Christian Life:

*Justification: the act of God, Who, by grace, declares sinners who have believed on Jesus Christ to be righteous

*Adoption: the act of God by which He grants believers an adult standing in His family

*Regeneration: the act of God which grants a second, spiritual birth, and new life, to the person who has trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior

Here is a fourth Big Word of the Christian Life:

*Propitiation: The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross which made it so that God could be both merciful and just in saving lost sinners

That is Propitiation defined. Here is Propitiation declared:

Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

Romans 3:25

God and Jesus work together in everything having do with salvation, so do not get the idea that God “set Jesus forth” because He was angry at Him. They are one God – one God in three Persons. (The Holy Spirit is also included in the Godhead.) Propitiation in general means to appease wrath, but God and Jesus sort of agreed that the Son would be the sacrifice for sin. Jesus did not plead with an angry God Who was prepared to destroy everyone. This was God’s plan, but God’s holiness and justice and wrath do require blood for the remission of sins. “Through faith in his blood,” says Romans 3:25, and to declare His (God’s) righteousness. Propitiation is the only way God could still be righteous and forgive sinners.

The sins that were past – the sins of the Old Testament and from the beginning of the world – had not been forgiven. They had been passed over through the forbearance of God.

Propitiation defined
Propitiation declared
Now,
Propitiation demanded:

Jesus Himself was the propitiation – and propitiation was the transaction between God and Jesus. Propitiation was the only possible meeting and satisfaction of God’s love and mercy with His wrath and justice.

Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

Hebrews 2:17

Jesus, the great High Priest, did what no earthly priest could ever accomplish in the Levitical system. He fully atoned for the sins of all God’s people for all time. Under the Levitical system of propitiation the high priest carried the blood into the Holy of Holies and sprinkled it on the mercy seat, between the images of angels looking down at the top of the ark, the dimensions of which represented the Law of God. God’s Law had been broken, and only His Own blood would satisfy His wrath and the curse caused by the breaking of His Law.

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

I John 2:1-2, emphasis added

If you have a Bible version that uses “sacrifice” or “atoning sacrifice” you are missing out on a big part of the richness of what God is telling us here. Our Advocate with the Father is not just some heavenly lawyer. He’s not some created being – not even an angel. He is Jesus Christ the righteous – and when God’s justice demands satisfaction for the penalty of sins, He not only brings payment in to the mercy seat, He is the payment – the bloody sacrifice that is demanded.

Propitiation defined
Propitiation declared
Propitiation demanded
And here’s the part that’s even richer:
Propitiation desired:

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

I John 4:10

God loved us – we did not love Him. He desired us – we did not desire Him. He sent His Son – not only to make the sacrifice, but to be the sacrifice. That’s propitiation! God did not just “demonstrate” His love. (Romans 5:8) He commended His love – He sent His love – His Son! Herein is love – do you want to know what love is? Do you want a motivation to be loving?

Propitiation defined: Tell people about it.
Propitiation declared: Look to Jesus whenever you don’t feel loving. In fact, look to Him all the time.
Propitiation demanded: Remember what our sin cost God.
Propitiation desired: Remember that God was not trapped by some mysterious cosmic law into doing what He did for us. He truly loves us.

Let’s love like Him – giving, providing, encouraging with words and deeds, covering the sins of others, fixing other people’s messes, getting involved in other people’s problems.


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