The Seven Last Words of Christ: With Me In Paradise

by Daniel Burton
by Daniel Burton

The authorities reserved crucifixion for the heinous criminals. There, slowly dying on the cross, in agonizing pain, Jesus hung there arms outstretched. While they had not found any crime against Him, Pilate sentenced Jesus I death to calm any potential political uprising.Yet, two men joined Jesus, being crucified alongside him. Criminals. Christ was to be executed in the company of criminals. One of them began to mock Jesus, while the other knew who’s presence he stood in. Two criminals, both equally condemned and rightfully so, yet with two different reactions to understanding that Jesus, the one who claimed He was the Messiah, hung next to them.  During this excruciating moment, inching closer to His death, the mission of Jesus still shown through the circumstances.  He came to save mankind and all who would follow Him. This moment would be no exception.

Continue reading

The Seven Last Words of Christ: Father Forgive Them

by Daniel Burton
by Daniel Burton

Everything in the ministry of Jesus Christ led up to this moment…

On his days on earth, Jesus did a great deal of things.  He taught life changing messages that quickly spread throughout the land.  He healed the sick from ailments and sicknesses.  Through his steadfastness, he singlehandedly turned a religious system on its head and inspire future believers for generations to come.  Yet, everything that Christ sought to achieve and His full purpose in coming led to this moment on the cross.  During this time, Jesus said very little, but the seven last statements of Christ would have a profound and lasting effect on all who heard.

He was crucified that day, a particularly brutal and bloody process.  All of this having been whipped, beaten, and bloodied long before His crucifixion.  No one could bring any true charge against Him and instead levied lies and falsehoods as the means of His judgment.  When it came time to crucify Him, he was placed in between two criminals, the people seeing Christ as nothing more than a mere criminal.  There, the mocking and pain continued.  Yet, it was the response of Jesus that stunned the crowd and epitomized the mission that Jesus came to complete.

Continue reading

Nobody Special 028: Kanye or Kierkegaard

This week, the boys of Nobody Special do everything in their power to not land a joke. Caleb and Danny discuss everything going on in the world today from Selfies to Space and what we do on the weekends.  Saturday is for the boys but Sunday is for the Lord.  Caleb and Danny look at the Sabbath and the effects of both taking one and not taking one.  They discuss their own past struggles with taking a sabbath and give encouraging advice on how to best take one.

Then its quiz time!  Caleb has to figure out if quotes are from Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard or from rapper Kanye West. It is oddly much harder than you think it would be.

Happy February everyone going through some form of True Love Waits.

The Gospel Outpost Presents Nobody Special

 

Luke 5:1-11 Abundant Obedience

by Daniel Burton
by Daniel Burton

The boats had been pulled ashore, the nets were being cleaned, and the fisherman were begrudgingly recovering from a long, fruitless night of fishing.  Dragging their boats ashore, the teacher approached a tired and defeated Simon Peter.  The crowds had become too large to simply stand among them.  The sea would prove to be a great vantage point to teach the masses.  But Peter was a simple, disgruntled fisherman, having had a rough night of fruitless labor, wondering how he would be able to provide for his family.  Now, he had to cast out his boat one more time for this teacher.  Had this been the same person who had healed the sick?

Yet, as the famed teacher had finishing speaking, he looks directly at Peter and told him cast out his nets.  How could this be?  They had been fishing all night and caught nothing of any substance for their evenings work.  There were simply no fish.  While Peter protested he still remaining obedient to the words of Jesus Christ.  They made no sense to a fisherman, but to a God, the catch was merely an act of obedience.  While he acted in obedience, the results were beyond the expectation of Peter’s imagination.
Continue reading

Making All Things New: From The End to Eternity

Daniel Burton
by Daniel Burton

At the foundation of the world, mankind and God walked in harmony with one another. Yet this harmony did not last long. Mankind began to doubt God and his truthfulness and his goodness. Through one act of sin, the foundation of the world cracked and the introduction of sin into the world ravaged paradise. Violence, death, and destruction became the new normal, things mankind was never intended to experience and could not sustain. Death came for mankind, all because they had become unholy. God, being Holy, could not permit the unholy to be in His presence. Unclean and clear are diametrically incompatible. One cannot exist in the presence of others.

In the throne room of heaven, war had broken out. A rebellion of a third of the angels had risen up against the High King of Heaven thinking that Lucifer would make a mightier ruler. The ensuing battle was big but over swiftly and God cast out Lucifer and his demons to earth. There, he tempted Adam and Eve in the form of a serpent. God cut Lucifer off from all power and authority and at the foundation of the world, an all-knowing God set forth in motion the events that would sacrifice His one and only son to save those the devil sought to destroy. Lucifer had become unholy. God, being Holy, could not permit the unholy to be in His presence. Unclean and clear are diametrically incompatible. One cannot exist in the presence of others.

‘Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Revelation 21:1-5 

At the end of time, we will arrive at the beginning of our eternity.  Everything that God has done throughout the course of mankind has sought to return humanity to eternity with Him.  Out of love, Christ made a way for our salvation, for our redemption, and for our sanctification.  All of this in order that we would rest in eternity in the ecstatic presence of God.  There is no area that God showed himself to be unsuccessful and no action that was not accounted for beforehand.  Jesus Christ was slain before the foundation of the world and heaven will collide with earth in pursuit of the people of God.

Slain Before The Foundation of the World

As the devil was cast out of heaven to earth, the battle had already been fought and lost.  At the outset of the creation, Jesus was slain for the salvation of the bible.  Revelation describes Jesus as “The Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8, NIV).  Before the rebellion of Satan, before speaking the earth into existence, the fullness of the Trinity understood what it would take to save the people of God.  Jesus would die, defeat death, and speak on behalf of mankind to impart His Holiness to the people.  The devil, by his very presence on earth, had failed.  The devil did not come with authority or power, but rather a perversion of both and a sharp tongue to mislead people into chaos.  In rebelling against the King of Kings and in tempting Adam and Eve to doubt God, death followed the devil and would be the punishment for all who followed after him.

A sovereign and omniscient God is fully able to take death and chaos into consideration in order to return His people to Him and to eternity. Click To Tweet

You see the sovereignty of God in play in the creation of mankind and the world.  God took everything into account: the rebellion of Lucifer, the introduction of sin, the fallen state of the world, the covenants, the law, and every other activity.  After all, “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9, NIV) and God has sat before all things.  The first sin and every subsequent sin that seemed to remove mankind from the presence of God.  Everything has been taken into consideration.  A sovereign and omniscient God is fully able to take death and chaos into consideration in order to return His people to Him and to eternity.  No action we commit can surprise a God who sent Jesus Christ to die for our salvation before the world began.  This is the Messiah that we have faith in.  From our perspective, we are catching up to the actions of an all-powerful God who is filled with love and compassion towards you, toward myself, and towards the world.

The Crashing of Heaven Into Earth

God is crashing heaven into earth for the sake of rescuing His people. Christ freed the captives by defeating death and offering salvation. When we experience miracles, we gain a glimpse of heaven crashing into earth. The overlap breaks into the physical and the manifestation of the Kingdom of Heaven becomes apparent.  As stunning as this may be, the miracles are only a taste.  At the fullness of God, the world will shudder at the presence of an eternal righteousness.  God will crash heaven into earth to allow His people safe passage home.  This is the core of the message underscoring the works of a loving God.  We are not ignored nor are we cast away.  The path to righteousness and healing has been cemented by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The end of time will serve as the beginning of our peace. And we will live in the fullness of God’s love. All from the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Click To Tweet

At the end, we will be restored to our right relationship with God and enter into eternity. There will be a new Heaven and a new earth. They will overlap and exist in unity with one another, there will be no division between the physical and the spiritual and all things will be restored to that first peace. The peace and communion first felt in the Garden of Eden will be restored to right relationship where we will walk with our Heavenly Father.  God wants to be with His people and longs to return us to Himself. The end of time will serve as the beginning of our peace. And we will live in the fullness of God’s love. All from the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Nobody Special 027: How To Be Better Than Google At Evangelism

The boys of Nobody Special are looking at the hard hitting questions that the world is asking.  Specifically, looking into the cultural phenomenons that are Tide Pods, Star Wars dating characters, and whether Alexa, Siri, and Cortana all hate Christians.  Apparently there are videos circulating around the internet of Alexa having no idea who Jesus Christ is but having an ability to give full lectures on every other faith.  So we look at what a Christian’s response should be and whether we should, frankly, even care.

Is this another Starbucks Christmas cup thing?  It feels like another Starbucks Christmas cup thing…

Either way, if Google won’t do our evangelism for us, we look at the top five ways to be better than Google at Evangelism.  Ya know, since we will have to do it ourselves.  Which  makes sense because we are followers of a Risen Lord and Google is a collection of digital ones and zeroes.

The Gospel Outpost Presents Nobody Special.

Exodus Week 10: God’s People Do As He Says

Daniel Burton
by Daniel Burton

Stop for a moment and consider where we are and where we’ve been.

At the beginning of Exodus, the situation appeared fairly bleak for the Israelites.  Enslaved and held captive by the power-hungry Pharaoh, the Israelites were facing their death and oppression.  And God heard their prayers. He sent Moses and gave him specific instructions on how to handle the release of His people.  In faith, Moses and the Israelites followed God and were saved.  During their plight in the desert, as the people feared for their safety, the Lord provided for them in miraculous ways.  Again, in faith, Moses and the people of God followed instructions for their own salvation.

The presence of God had presented Himself before Moses and shook the very foundations of the mountain on which He stood.  He gave them the law for how the world was intended to work and it was a blessing to the people.  In faith Moses and the Israelites followed God and were saved. God had descended to earth to meet His people, but He wanted more.  So He commissioned the building of the tabernacle where he would live in the midst of them.  Simply arriving on a mountain top would not be good enough.  God’s desire was to save and be with His people.  The motivation of God has always been love and the response to a loving God has always been obedience.

The details of the tabernacle and all of its pieces were very specific.  The actual building of the tabernacle and the tent as a whole would be made out of the finest materials.  The Ark of the Covenant would house the law of God and would be highly important throughout the history of Israel.  The table, the lamp stand, and the altar of incense carried out important priestly functions for the intercession of the priests on behalf of the people.  Furthermore, even the priestly garments were to be made to exact specifications. The Lord empowered His people to accomplish the task by the power of the Spirit. In faith, Moses and the Israelites followed God. “So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the Lord has commanded.” (Exodus 36:1, NIV).

As we arrive at the end of the book of Exodus, it doesn’t finish with the fanfare and conclusion that you would expect.  The people do not take hold of the Promised Land but are still in the desert.  Nor is there a sense that the story is complete but is rather just becoming.  Exodus does not resolve the story of God’s people because the story is not about God’s people.  The story is about God and the divine rescue mission for His people.  At the end of Exodus we see God saving His people and coming to live with them and tabernacle with them.  In the case of the Israelites, they obeyed the Lord with all of His commands to build His tabernacle.  And in their obedience, God provided a way for His people, empowering them by His Spirit.  All of this was a display of the glory of the Lord that would be made clear throughout the world.

The Spirit of The Lord

With all the details that were needed for the tabernacle and its corresponding component, the Israelites would require the work of a skilled craftsman.  Being tasked with building the place where God would reside requires holiness and perfection. The utmost of care and dedication of the craft given to every piece was vital.  The details required were highly ornate and stylized, each telling the story of God’s intervention with the people He loved.  For the story to be told in perfection, it would require the perfect hand of God.

The works of the tabernacle would be done by human hands, but with divine intervention.  “Then Moses said to the Israelites, ‘See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills.’” (Exodus 35:30-31, NIV)  The Lord gifted and empowered Bazalel and Oholiab with the ability not only to craft the masterpieces required, but the ability to teach others how to do so.  The Spirit of the Lord fell upon the two servants, and the result was a generational impact that paved the way for the coming Lord. The task set before the Israelites would require the Spirit of God in order to complete the mission of God.

Every Christian who is following God is on the same life mission.  The world needs to see the Glory of the Lord expressed through our lives.  Yet with every task given, God comes in our midst to provide us with a solution.  Our assigned tasks and the mission of God are only achieved as He works through us.  The goal of success is righteousness and holiness. Simply put—we, as members mankind, cannot do this on our own.  An unholy thing cannot make something else holy.  Only a holy thing can make another thing Holy.

Thus, in our efforts to pursue the plan of God in our daily lives, we have been given the Spirit of God to equip and empower us.  The Holy Spirit crafts life in its perfected and intended form.  In order for a God-given mission to rescue the world from the clutches of sin and death, our role can only be completed through the power of the Holy Spirit.  It is by His guidance, His empowerment, His grace, and our submission to the His Spirit that we are able to see lives redeemed and eternities founded. All of this for His Glory!

The Glory of The Lord

After everything had been completed, it was the Glory of God that inhabited the tabernacle.  All the hard work of specifics and fine details were completed.  Every detail of ornately crafted designs had been etched to their fullest extent.  When the Israelites had done everything that had been commanded of them, the glory of the Lord fell on the tabernacle, inhabiting it completely. The presence of God was palpable.  Even Moses would be unable to enter the Holy tabernacle of God without the proper protocol having been met.  “Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” (Exodus 40:34-35, NIV) In spite of distinct relationship that Moses had with God, even he would be unable to approach the Holiness of God.  The fullness of the glory of the Lord was simply too much for any mere human to withstand.

Yet, this is precisely what made the actions of the Lord so extraordinary­­.  God had come to man to guide him and safeguard his journey through the desert. “’In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted.  So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.” (Exodus 40:36-38, NIV)  The people were given the presence of the Lord to follow and His glory would go before them and lead them through whatever trials they would face.

You and I no longer have a tabernacle or even a temple building where God resides.  This, however, does not mean that the glory of the Lord has departed.  As with Bezalel and Oholiab, God gives us His Spirit.  Yet rather than a physical building or tabernacle, God has claimed us as His home.  “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” (1 Corinthians 3:16, NIV).  God resides within us in this New Covenant.  Our very lives are to bear the Glory of the Lord; and He desires to know us and for us know Him more intimately.  What we do and where we go proclaim and give witness to the magnificence of a God who rescues and redeems His people.

We too have the option of following God’s glory.  Like the Israelites, His glory will guide us through the deserts we face.  It will be a constant presence, reminding us that God desires to know us.  God’s glory will escort us out of slavery, defeat and death, while creating the true life that we were intended to have.  Our souls and our bodies were intended to be inhabited by the Lord.  The glory of God will lead us, sometimes through what appears to be a difficult situation, but His glory will always take us in the right direction.  Our choice is whether or not we follow the glory of the Lord.  The world will do everything in its power to make God seem less appealing, but as the Israelites learned, there is safety and protection in the Glory of the Lord.  Each of us has the distinguished honor of bearing God’s glory as He tabernacles with us and in us and in the world. Others will see God’s glory as His hand extends through ours.

Discussion Questions

Read Exodus 35:30-35 and Exodus 40:34-38

  1. Where do you see the Spirit of God in the display of the holiness and perfection of the tabernacle? How is this holiness achieved?  What role does mankind play? What role does God play?
  2. How does obedience serve as a response to the love of God? Why does this reaction make sense in the scope of the story of God?
  3. What are God’s intentions for His people? What is God craving from those whom He loves?
  4. When have you had to rely on the Holy Spirit to accomplish the task that God has set before you?
  5. How do our bodies serve as tabernacles and temples of the Lord? What does it mean that we are the temple of the Lord?
  6. Why can it be difficult to follow the guiding of the Lord? What are the common temptations and distractions we face?
  7. What benefit is there in following the presence of God? How does the story of Exodus show us that the glory of God is one worth following?

Download a Printable Version Here

 


This article original appeared here for Redeemer Church in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. 

Redeemer Church is located in Ponte Vedra, FL where you can come as you are to be amongst family and learn about Jesus. Redeemer is constantly learning together and we’re passionate about the spiritual journey God is guiding us through. Redeemer lives and breathes to reach people in our community and see the promise of God’s redemptive love fulfilled in their lives. Check out their website at http://www.redeemerpv.com

Making All Things New: From Bones to Living

Daniel Burton
by Daniel Burton

Everyone has gone through those times when we have nothing left to give spiritually.  For some, it was during times of sincerely struggling with sin.  While we worked tirelessly to conquer the plague of sin yet ultimately kept returning to that same sin.  Others sought to express their faith in every day living and became exhausted at the constant battle between flesh and spirit. Everyone though, walks through seasons of striving to perform spiritually and failing in the process.  Our own actions, our own strength cannot sustain us nor can it produce salvation in us.  It can only leave us dead, spiritually and eternally.  God spoke to the prophet Ezekiel regarding this similar issue.  The image is one of despair and death.  God takes Ezekiel to the middle of a valley and stands him in the midst of the result of death and decay.  Ezekiel walked through the valley full of bones taking note of the apparent death that was all around him.

 

‘Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord ! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord .’ ” So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them.

Ezekiel 37:4-8, NIV

While one of the most quotes verses of Ezekiel, its familiarity tends to glaze over the full depth of the passage.  We often are able to intellectually understand the idea of dry bones will rise and walk again.  We picture images of skeletons standing up like cheap halloween specials but miss the significance of where we are in this story.  As God shows Ezekiel the dry bones, God asks “Can these dry bones live?”  Ezekiel while answering God, undoubtedly came to the same understanding and fear that we all face.  We come to understand that we are the dry bones and fear that the answer is no.

Coming Alive by The Gospel

The feeling of spiritually and emotionally dead is devastating.  There simply is nothing that you are able to do.  All the energy you have is spent on merely existing.  Getting out of bed is difficult.  Going to work takes every ounce of strength.  Pursuing God seems like a lost cause.  The true, honest feeling of dead inside is absolutely debilitating.  In this moment, the effects of sin manifest themselves outward and the spiritual death that results from sin can be experienced.  Sin kills us.  We become not only bones, but dry bones that have been dead for a while, having been fully dried out.  Yet, for the dry bones, death is not the end of the story, but rather only the beginning.

God's intervention in our life has the ability to take us in our death and make us come alive fully to the life and purpose we were intended to live. Click To Tweet

God’s intervention in our life has the ability to take us in our death and make us come alive fully to the life and purpose we were intended to live. Where our sin left us dead, Jesus brought us to life.  Though we strove on our own strength to revive ourselves, the dead cannot raise themselves. Only when God intervenes are we able to find the life we were able to find.  Furthermore, we were not alone.  No sin we have is unknown to God and each and everyone one of us desperately needs the life giving words of the Gospel.  However spiritually dead we may feel, God has come to give life to the dead and secure their place in heaven.  Our God gives us flesh for our bones.  He gives us breath for our lungs.  He fulfills our purpose and restores us to right relationship with Him.  We go from dry bones to fully living.

Speak to The Dry Bones

God tells Ezekiel to proclaim the the word of the Lord to the dry bones.  By the grace and power of God to proclaim life to those who are irreparably dead, the dry bones were reformed according to their true purpose and fulfillment.  We have been changed and renewed by the mighty word of God.  Now, we have the same charge as Ezekiel; go speak to the dead.  The world is filled with those who have spiritually succumbed to the death of sin.  There are people who desperately need to hear that they are no longer stuck in their sin or pain but that a new life awaits them.  The struggles we have faced while deadly are not terminal and there is life beyond our sinful actions.  Death, for the Christian is not the end.  Our God has defeated death so that we would not have to face it.

The power of speaking the true, authentic Gospel is those who are dead will come alive from the power of Christ who conquered death itself. Click To Tweet

Proclaiming the Gospel to the world is not about fear our popularity, whether people will judge us, this is an issue of speaking life to death.  At times, we will be judged.  The power of speaking the true, authentic Gospel is those who are dead will come alive from the power of Christ who conquered death itself. We have the honor of representing Christ to the world through our thoughts, words, and deeds.  It is one thing to walk through a valley of dry bones.  It is another to know that was once us and we have been plucked out of the grips of death.  Now, we have the charge to speak true life to the world.  Where we were once hurting, we have been healed.  Now we bear the message that Jesus Christ saves everyone from death through his sacrifice on the cross.

Exodus Week 9: God Dwells In Our Midst

Daniel Burton
by Daniel Burton

God had met His people on Mount Sinai.  He did not join them through metaphor or representation, but the presence of God descended from heaven on Mount Sinai.  This divine invasion had spurned and annoyed the broken world that ceased being righteous long ago.  As God’s presence came near, the very earth groaned in the expectation of perfection that would soon be coming.  The mountain smoked. There was thunder and lightning.  The righteous God had come to an unrighteous world for the salvation and blessing of His people.

The Israelites were forever changed.  They had front row seats to the miracles and display of the wonders of God.  By His outstretched hand and His mighty arm, God had saved His people, guided them through the desert, and entered into a covenant with them.  Every step was an act of grace toward His chosen ones.  God was in the business of connecting with those He came to save.  Thus, even His presence on Mount Sinai was not enough.  God wanted to not only be known by His people, but to know them fully and live with them.

So, God commanded Moses to take up an offering for those who were willing to contribute.  With this offering they were to build a special building, a tabernacle that God could inhabit.  The people were to give their finest of gold, jewelry, and other valuable items to craft the tabernacle.  “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.” (Exodus 25:8-9, NIV). 

Every detail was spelled out meticulously by God to Moses.  The Ark of the Covenant would house the covenant that God had made with His people.  Furthermore, its design would be highly ornate and filled with the imagery of the story of God through all mankind.  Surrounding the Ark would be two large Cherubim—mighty angels of God.   Even the table would be designed from the decrees of God with the finest of wood and gold for the plates and accouterments.  The lampstand similarly would be made with fine wood and golden components.

God is a Holy God.  Similarly, His dwelling would be Holy.  In the middle of the unrighteous world would be the dwelling place of God.  The Israelites would serve as the first ambassadors of God to the world.  When the people saw the Israelites, they would see the representations of God.  With the directions to build the tabernacle, God was making His purpose abundantly clear.  God was going to dwell in the midst of His people.  And the furnishings of His tabernacle on earth would be symbolic of the throne room of heaven.

The Requirements of Righteousness

For many, these types of instructional passages of the Old Testament are often skipped, for they are often misunderstood.  At first glance, the requirements laid down in Exodus 25 can appear to be overwhelming.  The details that God describes are highly specific and incredibly ornate.  There are requirements for the dimensions to the type of building materials that must be used.  Furthermore, compared to the opening parts of book the Exodus, these sections are not as exciting and thrilling as narrative portions.  Some people either skip these chapters in their biblical reading or gloss over them quickly.

Yet, to do so would be a mistake.  First of all, it was God who was commanding these details for the people.  At the time, this was the nation of Israel, the people who believed in Him. In this timeframe in Exodus, the Israelites were the only people who believed in Him. To deemphasize the word of God ignores the crucial message that God is trying to communicate to His people—the details are important.  The tabernacle is the display of the glory of God.  This glory is fully comprehensive and encompasses the grand scale and the minute detail.  Every aspect is important as it reveals the righteousness of God and the requirements for holiness.  Perfection was the standard that must be achieved.  God, being a Holy and righteous God, could not live among unrighteousness lest the place where he stood be consumed by His holiness.

The righteousness of God still continues to this day and remains unchallenged.  With the tabernacle God sought to live amidst His people in a representation of the Holiness of God.  He lived as one of them without giving up His Holy nature.  With Jesus Christ, the idea of tabernacle was furthered.  Jesus, being fully God and coming to us as fully man, was God in the flesh.  He was holy, yet simultaneously walking among His people.  Jesus came into an unrighteous, unholy world that stood against Him.  It would have been easier and just to enact punishment for sins.  Yet, this is not what God desires.  The requirements of righteousness would first be met by God and then given to mankind.

Furthermore, God’s requirement of holiness came by the hands of ordinary materials.  The people possessed everything they needed to build the tabernacle and its corresponding pieces.  Through the offering that Moses took they were either in possession of the pieces they needed or were able to procure them.  While they may have been ordinary materials, it was God who made them holy.  The ordinary became Holy by the hand of God.  The same is true for us.  Our pursuit of righteousness and holiness can only be attained through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.  The tabernacle served as an oasis of righteousness where the people could approach God and obtain their own righteousness. The requirements that seemed overwhelming and unobtainable would be eliminated through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, His resurrection from death and His ascension into heaven.

A Home For God

God desired to be with His people, so the requirements for the Ark of the Covenant would be the most specified in the chapter.  The work and craftsmanship would be difficult to achieve.  Yet, the purpose for all of this would be abundantly clear. “There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the covenant law, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.”  Exodus 25:22, NIV.  God desired to have a place where He would be able to regularly meet with Moses and the Israelites.

Looking back on every act that God has done from creation until now, everything can be God finding a way to reunite His people to Himself.  After the fall, the consequences of our actions led to our separation from God.  After all, unrighteousness cannot be in the presence of righteousness.  One negates the presence of the other, and the power of God will always win when anything seeks to challenge it for existence.  Yet, God wasn’t content to allow people to die in their sin, but provided an avenue for their righteousness.  Hence the requirements given to the Israelites.  This is what it would take for God to live with them.

The offering that God asked Moses to collect was not a compulsory offering.  “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give.”(Exodus 25:2, NIV).  Those whose heart felt moved to give were to give what they were able.  This was not a tithe but an offering above and beyond the norm.  This was for those who desired the relationship that God did.  You cannot force or compel love.  Love, much like a covenant, involves two parties agreeing to be with one another.  The covenant that God was establishing was an act of love between God and man.  The offering was out of mutual love for God.  The tabernacle was out of love for the people of God.

With God, the tabernacle resided in the middle of the people and was a constant reminder of who they were and where their faith was.  With Jesus, the tabernacle became personal.  God ate with His people.  There was laughter, connection, and touch.  There was friendship and comradery and there was willingness to endure pain for the sake of His people.  With the coming of the Holy Spirit, God resides inside of the deepest part of us—our soul.  Our transformation occurs from the inside out.  Our hearts are changed and renewed and the righteousness of God is imputed to us and dwells in us.

Discussion Questions

Read Exodus 25

  1. There is a false dichotomy between the “sacred” and the “secular” that persists in Christian thought. What did God do with the regular items of every day (gold, jewelry and other valuables)?  How did God use these for His purposes?
  2. Where in scripture, both Old and New Testament, do you see the idea that God is looking to form a lasting relationship with His people?
  3. How does God’s desire to tabernacle in the midst of His people reveal His nature? What does this say about God?  What does this say about God’s feelings towards us?
  4. What role does pursuing holiness in our personal lives play in our relationship with God?
  5. What comfort do you receive from knowing that God wants to be connected with you? How does understanding this concept of the Gospel change how we operate our daily lives?
  6. What does a relationship with God look like? How do we approach Him?  What do we give up in the process?  What do we gain?
  7. Where does the source of our righteousness and holiness come from? How can we rely on God to sanctify us and make us holy?

Download a Printable Version Here

 


This article original appeared here for Redeemer Church in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. 

Redeemer Church is located in Ponte Vedra, FL where you can come as you are to be amongst family and learn about Jesus. Redeemer is constantly learning together and we’re passionate about the spiritual journey God is guiding us through. Redeemer lives and breathes to reach people in our community and see the promise of God’s redemptive love fulfilled in their lives. Check out their website at http://www.redeemerpv.com

Making All Things New: From Old To New

Daniel Burton
by Daniel Burton

The requirements of holiness are highly, highly detailed.  Any person who goes through the Pentateuch (the first five books of the bible), quickly comes to a realization of what God holds for righteousness.  Plainly put, the standard is absolutely and full perfection.  As we read through the requirements, we cannot help but come to the conclusion that we are, indeed, sinful and imperfect people.  There is no standard based on our behavior that claims we are not sinful people.  The problem of humanity is indeed sin and the consequences of that sin results only in death.  In our sins, we are as good as dead.

Yet, God makes all things new.  Throughout the whole of the Old Covenant, God established a relationship with His people based on their ability to hold tightly to the covenant.  God handed down the specific regulations of not only their behavior of also in proper worship and temple sacrifices by His own finger to Moses.  He appeared before Abraham.  He took residence among His people.  God could have easily abandoned a sinful and rebellious people and left them to their sin.  But, for a God who loves, saving His people would be the better goal.  The covenants previously established would fade away in exchange for new covenants.

 

This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.

Hebrews 8:10-13, NIV

 

The author of Hebrews connects the prophesies of old with the works of Jesus Christ.  For the old prophets, God revealed a future where the old covenant would disappear and a new covenant would be established.  Where people once studied the word of God, in the new covenant, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the covenant would become a part of their DNA and their very identity.  The sins will be forgiveness and they will be established for eternity.  The old will be made new and restoration will come for the people.  Through Jesus Christ, the Old Covenant established between God and His people will be fulfilled and a new covenant will be established by the grace of God.  Our response to this new covenant is nothing short of following wherever God leads us and submitting to His will.

The Fulfillment of the Old Covenant

At the outset of the Abrahamic Covenant, Abraham was fast asleep rather than being an activity participant.  In passing between the cut-up pieces of the animals, it signified that should the requirements of the Old Covenant not be met, that the punishment of death would fall to God.  Abraham, being asleep could not agree to the terms and thus, God, while being a King and a Sovereign, agreed to bear the consequences.  The Old Covenant required man to be fully obedient and blameless before God.  Imperfection cannot continue to exist in the face of overwhelming, Godly, holiness.  It is a spiritual impossibility.  Thus, for the Old Covenant, while the people’s hearts desired connection, it was undeserved and unmerited. The people were not holy, nor could they.  The people could not bear the weight of the requirements and would perish under the consequences.

Christ died to fulfill the requirements of a covenant that we could not keep so that we could rest in the grace of the new covenant. Click To Tweet

Yet, God did not allow this to go unnoticed.  The people were not Holy by any stretch of the imagination, but the solution for God was not to let them perish under their own actions.  Instead, the Old Covenant was fulfilled by the actions of Jesus Christ.  Sin demanded death as its consequences and for perfection, only the sacrifice of a perfect lamb would be acceptable.  Thus, our personal death would be insufficient to earn our salvation but merely to account for the sins we committed.  Jesus, our perfect lamb, bore the punishments of all mankind and extended the offer of salvation to all who would accept it.  Christ died to fulfill the requirements of a covenant that we could not keep so that we could rest in the grace of the new covenant.

A Response to The New Covenant

Yet, as the writer of Hebrews makes clear in His quotation of Jeremiah, we will move beyond mere obedience as the source of our salvation.  The idea is not that we will do what is good and be saved by our actions.  Instead, the idea is that because we are saved by the works of Jesus Christ, we are born anew and righteousness springs forth out from us.  In coming to Jesus Christ and making ourselves one with Him, we can see our sin for what it is; sin.  No longer is it something we reluctantly and half-heartedly give up, but instead it is filth that must go from our lives.  In pushing deeper into our relationship with Jesus Christ, we let go of our sin and even our desire to sin.  We are made knew.  The word isn’t simply a book that we read but it is a guiding force that is etched into our spiritual flesh, being written on our hearts and in our minds.

When we encounter the grace of the New Covenant, our only response can be to submit to the will and authority of God knowing full well that He desires to save us. Click To Tweet

When we encounter the grace of the New Covenant, our only response can be to submit to the will and authority of God knowing full well that He desires to save us.  The Old Covenant was not evil as it came from God.  But it did result in our full and utter destruction and this was not good enough for a God who loves His creation.  So, we submit to the will of God, even if we do not understand it.  Understanding is no prerequisite for obedience.  So, we submit to the will of God and allow the spirit to move and work inside of us because he is the author of creation and newness of life.  Our God makes all things knew and, although the process of sanctification may be painful, we are stronger because of it.  We have been plucked from the grasp of death and made new.

Contact and Subscribe To The Gospel Outpost