Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - February 28, 2017

Today's Reading:

Matthew 8:1-13

Exodus 39:1-40:38

Proverbs 18

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading:

In the Bible reading from Exodus today, we read about the Sanctuary. Today, I'd like to share with you the spiritual significance of the Holy Place.

The Holy Place
The term “Holy Place” is translated from the Hebrew word (6944)
קדשׁ  qôdesh 
Qodesh is "a sacred place or thing; rarely abstractly sanctity: - consecrated (thing), dedicated (thing), hallowed (thing), holiness, (X most) holy (X day, portion, thing), saint, sanctuary."

The actual Tabernacle stood in the west half of the courtyard.  It was divided into two compart-ments, or rooms.  While the width of the two rooms was the same, the length of the first room, the holy place, was twice as long as that of the most holy place.  The walls of the central structure were made of acacia boards overlaid with gold and connected with silver hardware (Exodus 26).

The Holy Place where the priests set out the bread of the Presence was a room 20 cubits long by 10 cubits wide and 10 cubits in height (30 feet x 15 feet x 15 feet). Its sides were formed by the golden upright frames. The beautiful linen curtain with its pattern of cherubim could be viewed through the framework in the front and on the ceiling. There were four golden pillars at the entrance and in the back of the room was the holy veil behind it was the Ark of the Covenant. Inside the room every piece of holy furniture was golden. The golden lampstand was on the left, the table of showbread was on the right, and the golden altar of incense was in the back of the room, placed before the veil.

The Holy place had three articles of furniture.  We will review them one by one.

The Curtains and Coverings

The curtains of the Holy Place were blue, purple, scarlet and had gold embroidered cherubim on them (Exodus 26:1-4)

This inner covering was covered with goat kids’ skin (white) covering (Exodus 26:7). And the goat hair curtain was covered with a red dyed ram’s skin layer, covered with a brown layer of antelope skin (badger’s skin is wrongly translated… It was a clean animal, as Strong’s points out – an antelope) (Exodus 26:14).

It is interesting to note that while the sanctuary would have been stunningly beautiful on the inside, it was very plain on the outside. Simple brown antelope skin is what the viewer would have seen from the external view.  This is like our Saviour. As it says in Isaiah 53:2 “For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.”  Yet, inwardly, Yahshua was glorious through the perfection of His lovely character.
In the same way, we are to be lovely in character. The externals should be well cared for and kempt, but the true beauty is inside.
1 Peter 3:3-4 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”

Acacia Wood Overlaid with Gold

Acacia wood was a strong, resilient wood that grew up in desert climates. It could survive the harsh environment because its rood grew very deep.  The tree itself never grew tall.  In fact, most acacia trees only grow to a height of 15-30 feet.  This tree was not affected by disease nor animal infestations because of the strong odor in the fiber of its wood.  Insects would not burrow into it. Therefore, some scholars present that acacia wood signifies perfect humanity as displayed by Yahshua.

In John 1:14, Yahshua was the Word who became flesh and "tabernacled" among men. The Tabernacle was also comprised of gold signifying the divine character of God Himself.  Gold is used frequently in the Old Testament and the New Testament as a building material for God's house, God's temple (1 Corinthians 3:12; Hebrews 9:4-5; Revelation 1:12,20; 21:15). 

John 1:1 says that the Word was with God and the Word was God.  This same "Word" who taber-nacled among men (John 1:14) was God. He was the uncreated, Eternal, omniscient (all knowing), omnipotent (all powerful), omnipresent (everywhere present) God come in the flesh to earth. His humanity was perfect.  He was without sin, without blemish, without "spot," without "wrinkle," and without any negative thing.

Also, this gold overlaid wood points to what Yahshua wants to do with us. We are to be the perfected humanity overlaid with the pure gold of God’s Character. This is a symbol of a sealed individual. And the Holy Place shows us what it takes to be sealed.

Each item of furniture in the Holy Place shows the elements we all need - daily, in order to sustain victorious, spiritual life.

The Golden Lamp Stand

Just inside the holy place on the left (south) side, stood the golden menorah that had seven candlestick branches (see Exodus 25:31-40).  They were not wax candles as we know them, but lamps fueled by pure olive oil.  The priests trimmed the wicks daily and refilled the bowls with oil so that the menorah would constantly be a source of light for the holy place.  Yahshua said, "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12).

He also said, "Ye are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14).  The Olive oil in the lamps symbolized the Holy Spirit that illuminates the church.  The lamp is a symbol of the Word, as well (Psalm 119:105).
  • Light is truth – thus the lamp stand shows that those who will be sealed will have the light of truth in them.
  • The olive oil is the indwelling Holy Spirit – thus the lamp shows that the power source of the sealed individual will be the Holy Spirit.
  • The Menorah itself represents Christ the Vine – as we are the branches, we only bear fruit (light) while we abide in Him and He in us.
We may have the blessing of the menorah in our lives daily by asking God to make us connected with Him for that day. We may ask Him to fill us with His Spirit like the olive oil filled the seven-branched candlestick. And we may pray for strength to live according to His Will so that our lives will radiate a testimony (the light) leading others to the Truth.
Matthew 5:14-16    "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven."
The Table of Shewbread

Opposite the lamp was the table of showbread on the north side.  It was constructed of acacia wood and covered with gold (Exodus 25:23-30).  On it were kept 12 loaves of unleavened bread (Leviticus 24:5-9).  These loaves were symbolic of Christ, Who is the Bread of Life (John 6:35).  There was also “wine” (grape juice) representing the Yahshua’s Blood and the necessity for daily claiming it.

On the Table of Shewbread, there were TWELVE loaves of unleavened bread - the number 12 represents God's Governmental perfection.  The number 12 signified the 12 tribes of Israel and 12 apostles of Yahshua who were to feed God's people with the bread of life - which is also a symbol of the Bible (Matthew 4:4).  It is the number or factor of all numbers connected with government: whether by Tribes or Apostles, or in measurements of time, or in things which have to do with government in the heavens and the earth.

We may personally partake of the spiritual showbread by daily "eating" from the Word of God. Yahshua is the Word of God, made Flesh. But He is also the Living Bread. The Bread is the Word. And it only when we daily eat of the Word of God that we may be nourished - spiritually.

The Altar of Incense

The altar of incense was located directly across from the door standing against the ornate veil that separated the holy place from the most holy place.  Like several other items in the sanctuary, it was also made of acacia wood and covered with gold (Exodus 30:1-3).  It was much small than the altar in the courtyard and contained a brass pot that held hot coals from the brazen altar of burnt offerings.  It was here that the priest burned a very special blend of incense which filled the sanctuary with a sweet-smelling cloud, representing the prayers of intercession and confession of the believers sweetened by the Holy Spirit (Exodus 30:8).

The Holy Place represents the process of sanctification.  This corresponds to the wilderness wanderings of Israel.  The pillar of fire was their menorah, and the manna was their shewbread.  The pillar of cloud was their cloud of incense.

Sanctification is the process in the Christian's life of learning to obey.  It is made up of a series of justifications.  Each time we sin we ask for forgiveness, and we are justified again.  However, God offers more than forgiveness when we confess.  In 1 John 1:9, He promises us that, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

We may personally experience the incense through prayer. Prayer is breathing - spiritually. 

It is that "cleansing from unrighteousness" that constitutes sanctification.  The key ingredients in our sanctification are a devotional life in the Word, prayer, and witnessing.  The sanctuary's bread, incense, and lamp represent these elements.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - February 27, 2017

Today's Reading:

Matthew 7

Exodus 37:1-38:31

Proverbs 17

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading:

In Matthew Chapter 7, we find a powerful command: "judge not, that ye be not judged":
Matthew 7:1-3  “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”
The words "Judge not" are translated from the Greek word "krino". Krino is "to determine, to decide mentally or judicially, to form an opinion, to try, to condemn" and "to punish".

When we krino judge others, we put ourselves in the place of Yahweh. He alone has the Right and Authority to judge and condemn a person.

At first, we may think that we aren't judging others. But did you know that judgment of others can happen in how we speak of them?
James 4:11-12  “Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother… There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?”

David’s wisest and most trusted advisor was Ahithophel. The Bible says that his counsel was like inquiring “at the oracles of God.” But, Ahithophel joined Absalom in the revolt against David and even gave counsel unto Absalom in how to defeat him. So what changed in Ahithophel’s heart?

Ahithophel had witnessed David’s failure with Bathsheba. He had seen the king fall into sin.  David repented for his sins. His prayer of heart-felt repentance is given in Psalm 51, but even though the king repented, Ahithophel could not find it in his heart to forgive David as Yahweh had.  Ahithophel had a judgmental spirit towards David, he no longer respected him. 
On the subject of judging, the Bible appears to be in conflict.  On the one hand it tells us not to judge, but on the other hand we read that spiritual people are to judge all things! What do we do with that?  Actually the Greek word translated as “judge” is different. When the Saviour said Judge not that ye be not judged, we saw that the word krino was used, but when we are told that Spiritual people judge all things, the word judge is translated from anakrino

Yahweh’s people need to have Spiritual discernment. The form of judgment we are called to do is the discernment of fruits.

Revelation 3:18  “I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire… and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see.”
We need spiritual discernment, because it is vitally important to be able to discern the fruits in a life. It is only by the fruits (when the Holy Spirit is present, the attitudes and behaviors will demonstrate  the Fruits of the Spirit - Galatians 5:22-23). But, when we discern that the attitudes and behaviors are not manifesting the Fruits of the Spirit, we are not to condemn the person. It is possible for someone who belongs to God to step out from His Will and Spirit for a moment. 

In David's case, he was called a man after God's own Heart (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22). That is a powerful testimony! Yet, David stepped out from under God's Will and Covering for a time. He committed adultery with Bathsheba and then murdered her husband. These very ungodly actions certainly do not measure up to the Fruit Test. In other words, they are not manifesting the Fruits of the Holy Spirit. 

Most of us have not gone so far as to commit adultery and homicide! These are serious offenses! And there were some, who could not forgive David, nor accept him as "God's anointed" king of Israel afterwards. Yet, having a judgmental attitude towards David caused the destruction of those who carried this bitter judgment in their attitudes and actions. David was not destroyed. But those who bitterly judged him for his sins were destroyed, exactly as Christ warned in Matthew 7:1-3. Let's revisit the story of David to gain some fuller insights from this powerful illustration. 

While the Israelite army was out in battle, David stayed home. One evening, while walking upon his palace rooftop, he noticed a beautiful woman bathing.  Instead of resisting temptation, David had an affair with the woman, whose name was Bathsheba. David ordered the poor husband of the woman to be killed and Bathsheba came to be one of David’s wives.
David repented after this terrible sin, but he did not have the same impetus to discipline in his own house. David’s son, Amnon defiled his half-sister Tamar. When David learned what Amnon had done, he simply became angry and did nothing about it.

However, Tamar was Absalom’s full sister. Since David brought no judgment against Amnon, Absalom determined to execute judgment on Amnon himself. Absalom murdered Amnon.

Afterwards, Absalom grew more and more openly critical of his father. In 2 Samuel 15:3-6, we read that Absalom stole the hearts of Israel from his father by sitting in the gate and stealing the court cases which would have been brought before his father. Absalom said, “Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I would do him justice.”  But, the motivating force behind Absalom’s judgment was revenge, criticism, and contempt. Therefore it bore fruit in full blown rebellion against king David, his father.

Absalom’s rebellion reached such a pitch that he actually fought to take the life of the king.  Sadly, the very thing Absalom sought to do to David, his father, came upon him.

As I mentioned earlier, Ahithophel, who was a wise and trusted counselor of David, joined Absalom in his rebellion. The Bible tells us that Ahithophel was indeed a wise and godly man. 2 Samuel 15:23 says,“the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counseled in those days, was as if a man had inquired at the oracles of God.” 

With so much wisdom, it would seem obvious that Ahithophel would remain loyal to David, who was Yahweh’s anointed. But, when Absalom revolted, Ahithophel turned against David and not only joined Absalom, but gave him counsel on how best to KILL David.

When Yahweh answered David’s prayer and caused Absalom not to listen to the counsel of Ahithophel, this formerly wise counsellor knew Absalom's cause was doomed and he went home and hung himself (2 Samuel 17:23). What Ahithophel intended to do to David, he ended up doing to himself. 

But why did he turn against David in the first place? The answer is found in his lineage. 

In other words, the Bible tells us that Ahithophel was Bathsheba’s grandfather. Just as Absalom had determined to kill Amnon for immorality with his sister, so Ahithophel turned from wisdom, made himself a judge over David, and purposed to kill David for defiling his granddaughter.

Both Ahithophel and Absalom died for their intent to kill David. And this is exactly what the Bible warns will happen to us if we ever take it upon ourselves to judge another out of revenge, bitterness, or any other ungodly reason. In fact, Scripture tells us that the punishment we plan to bring upon another is what we ourselves will receive! Proverbs 26:27 tells us that the pit we dig for another is the pit we ourselves will fall into. And the stone we roll to crush another, will return upon us. That's a sobering thought!

Another Biblical example of this principle is Haman, in the time of queen Esther. Haman built a gallows to hang Mordecai upon. But, Haman ended up dying on those gallows - not Mordecai! As our Saviour warned:
Matthew 7:1-3  “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

Next, let's consider the "mote" and "beam" principle in Matthew 7. One of the reasons we cannot krinos judge another is because, when we are spiritually immature, we feel pretty good about ourselves. But, as we mature, we come to see the depths of our own need and more deeply appreciate the Saviour.  Its kind of like the education process. The more you know, the more you know you don’t know. And the true mark of an ignorant person is an individual who believes he knows everything.

Thecloser we come to Yahweh, the less deserving of His Grace we will feel. The deeper our love for Him grows to be, the more will be our awareness of our own sinfulness. Thus, when I am the farthest from Him, I will feel the most self-righteous, as did the Pharisee in Yahshua’s parable. Yahweh wants me to have a heart that acknowledges its own needs before pointing out the needs of others.

Discernment is the God-given ability to distinguish between what is good and what is evil, in order to make wise decisions. But spiritual discernment becomes critical judgment when there is no heart-felt desire to labor for the salvation of the sinner.
2 Peter 1:9  “But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.”
When Hannah was praying silently in the Temple, priest Eli came in and saw her lips moving.  A critical spirit arose in him and he immediately rebuked her for being drunk (1 Samuel 1:13-15).

But Hannah was not drunk, merely deeply sorrowful. Eli misinterpreted her situation and judged her falsely because of his own "baggage". The problem was that the excesses that Eli judged her for were true in his own life and in the lives of his two sons. Yahweh not only reproved Eli through the son that Hannah later had (Samuel), but He eventually took the lives of Eli and his sons.

Not only did Yahshua command us not to judge one another with a critical spirit, He also gave us clear direction on how to conquer this problem. If we find ourselves harboring a critical and condemning spirit towards another, we should immediately recognize this as a signal to examine our own lives to see where we have an exact or similar failure.

Now what do I mean by saying that our personal problem may not be exactly the same as those we judge, and yet we may still be guilty of a similar thing?  Perhaps a person has a problem with being argumentative and we criticize them in our hearts for that.  

But, underneath that argumentative front may lie a spirit of bitterness. In fact, often bitterness is the fountain from which argumentation springs. We may not have the outward action of argumentation, but we may have the inward attitude of bitterness over past hurts. 

Rather than judging a person for his argumentation, we should conquer the bitter spirit in our own lives and THEN prayerfully seek the right opportunity to share with that person the steps to similar victory over bitterness.

In this way, the problems we experience can be used to help others who are going through similar problems. 
2 Corinthians 1:3-5 “…Blessed be YAH, even the Father of our Adonai Yahshua HaMassiach, the Father of mercies, and the YAH of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.  For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.”
This is how God treats us.  He saw our failings, rebellion, and stinking sins with laser vision and far more clarity than we can ever see them. Yet, He, Who was perfect and had every right to condemn us, didn’t do so. He instead loved us, stink and all. He worked for our salvation, stepping into the gap with His own Blood and Body. 

John 3:17  “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.”
 So, if you find yourself being tempted to get a judgmental or critical spirit towards someone, do the following steps, instead:

  • Confess and repent of your own sins.
  • Gain victory over your own sins through Yahshua’s Grace and weapons.
  • See the deficiencies in others as opportunities to intercede in prayer for them.
  • Love others and labor with God for their salvation.