♣ Scripture’s Symphonic Beauty
Posted by Shade of the Moriah Tree
THE BIBLE, IN its entirety, is a beautiful symphonic revelation of God’s mind and plan of salvation for a lost humanity. Each part makes up the whole; every detail, by God’s wisdom, has been written for our instruction, no matter how insignificant, irrelevant and unappealing certain passages may seem. They are there because God has purposed them to be there and as we grow in Him, we come to discover more of Scripture’s incredible harmony. It is without dispute that the more we advance in our Christian pilgrimage, our amazement and love for the Scriptures increase. We come to find that God’s written Word is inexhaustible; over-familiarity with Scripture is an impossibility for those who walk with God. The greatest preachers, after ministering for half a century, felt they had barely begun to mine and expound its endless treasures, yet the congregants would testify to the fact that their hearts were filled with a sense of heaven each time they came to hear the Word unfolded.
I have heard numerous Christians and surprisingly to include preachers, state how Leviticus can be very tedious reading. Another reason why they find no interest in such books, to include Numbers, is their ‘irrelevancy’ because such kind of ritualistic worship and approach to God is no longer compatible in our day and dispensation.
While it is truth to state that many of ancient Israel’s practices have been made obsolete, through the one and only perfect sacrifice of Christ, that gives no ground of justification to be ignorant of the historical significance and implications for our day and age. This is one of the reasons why many stray into error with reading the Scriptures. There is a systematic pattern with the whole of Scripture just as there is with reformed theology. Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones stated that the Bible is a record of God’s plan of salvation worked out throughout the entire history of mankind; it shows man’s inability to redeem himself; it shows man repeatedly failing, but God, in His covenantal faithfulness, continues to carry out ALL He has decreed before the foundation of the world.
We’ve heard it said that the New Testament is latent in the Old Testament and the Old Testament is patent in the New Testament. Both Testaments are inseparable, each in harmony with the other. It is we who have given the division of the Old and New, but essentially it is one book. From beginning to end, the Bible is explicit, in that through God’s sovereign grace, men and women have been unconditionally chosen and called unto salvation. Consider Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Jonah, right through to the Apostle Peter and Paul; it is all of grace why such men stood as they did; God’s mercy is just as prevalent in the Old Testament as in the New; it is God’s irrevocable covenant with man first indirectly spoken as far back as in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15, 21) and with Abraham (Genesis 15 and 22), that through the seed of man, One shall come in Whom all the promises of God are fulfilled. The law of God was to show (teach) man’s incapability to meet God’s standards apart from faith in Christ: “So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 4:24). “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:3-4).
This is why systematic and exposition of Scripture is so imperative and because it is lacking in much of modern day evangelicalism, largely gives answer to the widespread spiritual paralysis in most of our churches across America. God will not empower where purity is absent. The Church is to be instructed and exhorted to walk in holiness and that comes through a sound interpretation and application of the Scriptures. That the majority of church members prefer to sing, clap and dance for two hours, leaving just fifteen minutes of hearing a bite-size formula of the Word, reveals a whole lot about their spirituality. The excuse given is that people have a very low concentration span these days. I often wonder how on earth they can sit in a theatre and think nothing of spending three hours engrossed in a movie; it just doesn’t add up. It’s one thing to have a famine of the Word of God, but quite another thing to have nobody hungry in such crises! The undeniable and unavoidable fact is that the majority don’t want to hear the Word. They’ll argue that it goes over their head and that it makes things too complicated; they want simplicity. The reason for the deficiency of understanding is because the carnal mind cannot discern what is spiritual; they may hear but not perceive.
Because of the great lack of systemised exposition, many fail to read their Scriptures aright. Paul’s letter to the Romans was a wonderful, Spirit led and inspired, methodical reasoning of eternal truth. It is blatantly obvious from the very first chapter up to the eleventh, that there is a systemised and logical method employed by Paul as he escalates the argument. It is one of the grandest – if not the greatest – epistles. Then comes the practical application from chapter twelve onwards: “Therefore, in the light of God’s mercies (all the glorious truth Paul has been expounding), present your bodies as a living sacrifice…” We can never understand Paul’s ‘Therefore’ unless we have followed his argument of ‘Wherefore’. In all actuality it is not Paul’s ideologies or opinions, but the Holy Spirit Who used the personality of Paul to communicate Truth.
Failing to understand the relationship of the whole of Scripture and how it all links into a perfect unity, inclines many to read the Bible in a self-gratifying manner. God’s Word is never to be reduced to the level of our understanding and preferences or what sections we prefer to read; we are to study it with the motive to be raised to the level of understanding God’s revealed mind or rather His communicable attributes; we are to read it with the motive to seek the mind of God; we are to study it (through prayer) to know how to obey and please Him. Neither are we to search the Scriptures to merely seek salvation for ourselves; we seek salvation that we may walk with Him and please Him; it is God’s glory first and foremost, not man’s welfare. How different the scenario is today as the gospel is subtly twisted from the objective glory of God to a subjective and self-orientated perspective. If we lack a true knowledge of God, we can be certain of approaching Him inappropriately.
Does this not bear implications on today’s worship? It is not about us or about obtaining that nice feeling; it’s about knowing how to approach God with reverence and awe and that He remains the same. What thoughts arise as we read of the deaths of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, who offered unauthorised fire before the Lord (Leviticus 10), or the death of Uzzah as he inappropriately handled the ark of God (1 Chronicles 13)? Did such incidents just take place under the ‘old dispensation’ and that in the ‘new’ dispensation of grace, we have a gentle and very tolerant God? Concerning Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5), we see that God will not be mocked. The writer to the Hebrews stated, “…let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for God is a consuming fire.” – and it has not changed to this day; God is still a consuming fire; as in the Old Testament so it is in the New Testament and it is our ignorance – and our persistence therein – to state otherwise.
Leviticus, as with Exodus, is very detailed in the instructions of establishing God’s order of worship. God is very methodical as to what He requires. We read how God instructed Moses for producing all the tabernacle’s materials and the precise measurements to be followed in exact order. Not a short cut was made! Sacrifices and offerings were prepared to the exact requirements and in precise accordance as God revealed to Moses. They were God’s commands in how to approach Him. Grave consequences followed when such worship was mixed with man’s carelessness and ‘improvisations’ (Leviticus 10), for God will be sanctified (hallowed) among those who are near Him and before such a people He will be glorified (Leviticus 10:3).
Then there were the variety of offerings to God: burnt offerings, sin offerings, guilt offerings, grain offerings, peace offerings and freewill offerings. The grounds as to why such laws and procedures were instituted was to indicate the seriousness, weight and gravity of sin. God’s laws exposed the breach and immeasurable gulf between God and man and because there is no darkness in God, He will not tolerate it in His creation made in His image. Sin (the perverting of all that God is and what He created) is radically opposed to God and requires radical redemption to reconcile what has been lost; it requires the life (blood) of another, without blemish, to take on the guilt and penalty of what is repulsive in God’s sight.
Leviticus draws out the absolute purity and holiness of God and how a sinful leprous humanity (representing the whole human race) has fallen from its glorious union with God. It foreshadows Jesus Christ’s sacrificial life and death – the perfect sacrificial Lamb of God – Who not only cleanses but takes away our sin, healing us from all our spiritual diseases. Leviticus is serious because sin is gravely serious, yet God in His mercy provided a way in order for His chosen people to come before Him, having their sins covered by shed innocent blood – a sacrifice to atone for their transgressions, for where there was no shedding of blood meant no remission of sin; their guilt requiring the judgement of God remained upon them, but when their guilt was removed, they enjoyed the benefits of belonging to the God Who called them out of tyranny’s slavery and bondage.
The abyss of Christ’s sacrificial death mirrors the heinousness of humanity’s sin. God cannot overlook sin; He cannot forgive sin unless another life takes the place of judgement. God imputes our sin to another who has not been defiled – “For our sake He made Him to be sin Who knew no sin…” (2 Corinthians 5:21). How on earth can we appreciate the significance of Hebrews 9 and 10 without a preparatory understanding of Leviticus? To find this extraordinary book tedious is greatly concerning, for then that is to fray the tapestry of God’s Word and where that takes place we can be sure that an undermining of the authority of God’s Word follows. Yet despite the human heart rejecting God’s authority, the Word of the Lord will stand forever while everything else fades to nothing.
Leviticus read in the light of Christ prefigures all that He would undertake to redeem humanity – that His life was lived in perfect submission and obedience to the Father; His life was without blemish. The blood that He shed in redemptive sacrifice has never to be repeated; it was efficacious in raising us to a new life of obedience from being dead in our sins and where the blood touches and cleanses, the Spirit will come and fill, enabling us to walk in God’s ways. “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come [foreshadowed in Leviticus], then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of the heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, Who through eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:11-14). Christ appeared once for all to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself (Hebrews 9:26): “Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.”
God remove the veil from our eyes and grant us a richer and deeper understanding of His Word.
Every piece of Scripture is divinely significant – even the comprehensive genealogies and census throughout the book of Numbers have their vital place of participating in God’s great symphonic plan of salvation; everything is traced back; everything has its history; every part links together in making the whole. It is God’s work of redemption and salvation beautifully orchestrated throughout the history of mankind. Despite man’s failing and blunders, regardless of nations rising and falling, irrespective of mans boasting and defiance against God – man’s folly and helplessness has been revealed so that no-one is left without excuse. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son…” (Galatians 4:4) to redeem a people conscious of their weakness and inability to seek and please God; to call the sick who need God’s mercy and grace. This is exactly what the law has done; it has rendered the human race useless, fast-bound in the bondage of sin; it has brought humanity to a place of reasoning and being held accountable before God, that though sin has scarlet-stained Adam’s race, the Way has been opened through the healing fount of Christ’s redemptive cleansing and a new creation is called forth with God’s Son as its new Federal Head. The old has gone, the new has come. “But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in old way of the written code” (Romans 7:6). The law is now written on our hearts of flesh. We pursue God, not by the works of the law, which only aggravated sin (held man accountable to the sin within), but by faith and trust in Christ who perfectly fulfilled the law and imputes His righteousness to us. Serving God in newness of spirit is a changed disposition that loves to obey God over and against fearing the consequences of insubordination.
The moral implications or rather, the very spirit of Leviticus (not to exclude the other neighbouring books) applies to our Christian walk as the apostle Peter reiterates from Leviticus 11:44 – “…but as He Who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:15-16). The use of the Old Testament is prevalent throughout the New Testament Scriptures; they cannot be decoupled and only through the Holy Spirit will we see its symphonic unity, beauty and relevancy that God indeed has called us out of sin and the world to Himself in order to fully conform to the image of Jesus Christ His Son.
Posted on April 16, 2013, in ♣ Devotional and tagged 1 Chronicles 13, 1 Peter 1:15-16, 2 Corinthians 5:21, accountable before God, Adam’s race, authority of God’s Word, Bible, bondage, burnt offerings, census, Christ made to be sin, Christ the Federal Head, Christian walk, devotional, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Exodus, exposition of Scripture, famine of God's Word, freewill offerings, Galatians 4:24, Galatians 4:4, genealogies, God is a consuming fire, God's covenantal faithfulness, God's plan of salvation, God’s commands, God’s irrevocable covenant, God’s laws, God’s work of redemption, grain offerings, guilt, guilt offerings, Hebrews 10, Hebrews 9, Hebrews 9:11-14, Hebrews 9:26, heinousness of humanity’s sin, holiness, holiness of God, imputed righteousness, insubordination, judgement, Lamb of God, Leviticus, Leviticus 10, Leviticus 10:3, Leviticus 11:44, living sacrifice, man’s carelessness, Mark Anthony Williams, modern evangelicalism, moral implications, new life, newness of spirit, peace offerings, penalty, purity, purity of God, redemption, rejecting God’s authority, Revelation, Romans 7:6, Romans 8:3-4, Scripture's Symphonic Beauty, Scripture’s harmony, seriousness of sin, shedding of blood, sin, sin offerings, sin-stained, sinful leprous humanity, slavery, spiritual diseases, tapestry of God’s Word, true knowledge of God, unity of the Scriptures. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.