You haven’t read the Book of Leviticus lately … have you? Don’t be shy; I understand! This is a confusing and mysterious book to many Christians, but it doesn’t have to be. The book is about the moral, ceremonial and civil laws that God’s people had to follow under the Old Covenant. It’s full of lots of details, and lots and lots of blood.
Lots of blood.
It may not be a spell-binding page-turner of a book, but it’s one of best resources God gave us for understanding who His Son is. When we compare the elaborate sacrificial rituals from the Book of Leviticus to what Christ did for sinners once for all, we see a beautiful object lesson. That’s what the sacrificial system is; God’s object lesson to prepare His people to understand and accept the need for a final, perfect atonement for sin and rebellion.
That’s what I preached about this past Sunday morning; how “Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God,” (1 Pet 3:18).
Here’s the sermon (below):
For reference, here’s the graphic I referenced throughout the sermon, which depicts the Old Covenant tabernacle, as described in the Book of Exodus:
The sermon audio is below. Actually, this is a Sunday School lesson. But, the title has been published, so I can’t change it now!
The Book of Zechariah is a neglected book. At 14 chapters, it’s the longest of the so-called Minor Prophets. It’s an obscure book, tucked away in an even more obscure part of the Christian Bible – that wasteland after the Book of Daniel, before the New Testament.
And yet …
This book has perhaps more direct prophesies per column inch about the coming Messiah than any other book in the Bible. It promises a glorious future for the distressed Israelites, a new and better leader who’ll rule over the world in peace and righteousness, promises a new and better covenant, a new and better High Priest, and vows that Israel will be ashamed for betraying and rejecting her Savior. It’s a thrilling book, and a close reading (with a good commentary even closer at hand) will encourage even the most cynical Christian.
This is also the book which prophesies how the Messiah will reveal Himself to the world as King. That prophesy is found in Zechariah 9:9-11 (and following), and it’s what I taught about this morning. It’s a prophesy which bookmarks the start of God’s fulfillment of everything He’s promised to His people, ever since the Garden of Eden.
Why should Christians want to ask for God’s favor, instead of returning evil for evil, or insult for insult? What is the end-goal? Why should we be prepared to give an account of the hope that’s within us? I covered some of this in Sunday School, as we examined this passage (1 Peter 3:13-17; what follows is my translation):
So, who’ll harm you, if you’re zealous for what’s right? But, even if you do suffer because you’re doing what’s right, God will bless you. So, don’t be afraid of their threats or be intimidated. Instead, reverence the Messiah as Lord in your hearts.
Always be ready to give a defense to every man who’s asking you for an account of the hope inside each of you. But, do this with gentleness and reverence in order to have a good conscience, so that when they keep slandering your good way of life because you belong to Christ, they might be ashamed. Because it’s better to suffer because you’re doing what’s good (if that’s God’s will), than because you’re doing what’s evil.
The audio is below, and the translation notes are here.
What should a Christian wife do, if she’s married to an unbeliever? Generally, I think there are two possible responses. The first is to be tempted to break the marriage covenant:
Maybe she hit the road, and dump the guy?
Perhaps she should preach to him incessantly, and heckle him to “get saved” and become a Christian?
Should she take a judgmental, self-righteous attitude?
The second response is to be tempted to mix your Christian faith into secular culture, in an attempt to curb any possible offense it might cause in your family, and in society – go along to get along, as they say:
Maybe she should go with her husband to worship the gods and goddesses at the pagan temple?
Maybe she should burn incense in homage to the Emperor?
Maybe she should internalize her faith, and make it a totally private affair. In other words, become a “secret” Christian?
In this passage (1 Peter 3:1-7), the Apostle Peter talks about this problem. His advice is very, very simple – be submissive to your unbelieving husband, because he might be won over to the Gospel by your Christlike way of life.
Listen to the first discussion about this passage, and read the teaching notes, too. As always, the audio and teaching notes for the entire book of 1 Peter are here.Ciao!
Today, I managed to finish my Sunday School march through 1 Peter 2:18-25. Why on earth would Peter tell his readers, “this is favor with God – if, when you’re doing right and suffering, you endure it. This is why you slaves were called to salvation!” The Apostle answered that question by drawing a parallel to Christ, our Savior.
Christ lived, suffered bled and died on behalf of all people, many of whom couldn’t care less. In the same way, Christian slaves (and, by extension – all Christians) have been called to salvation to do right (i.e. be faithful Christians who live holy lives), and (if necessary) endure hardship. And, we’re supposed to do it all for the sake of the people we have influence with – some of whom couldn’t care less, either.
Christ is our example.
Along the way, I made some brief comments about how this vision of the Christian life (i.e. we’re slaves for God, and He called us to salvation so we can be witnesses for Him) is extraordinarily counter-cultural. Christian pop-culture in America is largely consumed with narcissism, and the Gospel is so often framed as a tool to give you success. God is the Cosmic Butler, and is Jesus the Divine Therapist.
Here, in Micah 5:2-4, the prophet gave us probably the best-known passage in his book, and one of the most precious promises of the coming Christ. It’s a beautiful prophesy, and full of hope. Many Christians quote it this time of year, but fewer consider the real context of this prophesy.
If you picture God sitting before a crackling fire, passing around hot apple cider and chocolate truffles, telling the Israelites the wonderful story of the Coming King with a twinkle in his eye, tears of tender love flowing down His cheeks and a warm, fuzzy feeling in his heart … then you’re wrong!
In reality, God is promising all this to them even though (by and large) they’re complete religious hypocrites who hate God and hate His law. Let me say this plainly, because it’s the same message God sent Micah to preach to these Israelites, and it’s the same context in which he preached this prophesy of the Messiah: