Grace and Truth

…all the words of this life…


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Gay Marriage and the Church

One thing that bugs me about the debate over gay marriage is that when both sides bring the Bible into the discussion they always seem to miss something. And it’s something HUGELY important.

One side says it is about justice and equality. The other side says it is about the family and the rights of the child. Both sides are passionate, heated and emotional.

But it is important to see something bigger is going on: whilst there is much emotional rhetoric on both sides, the battle is actually spiritual.

There are two people who care more about marriage than even the most verbal and passionate of activists:

These are of course God and Satan.

I have heard both sides discuss Leviticus 18 & 20, the story of Sodom and of course Romans 1. I’ve heard Christians and non-Christians, gay and straight argue these scriptures.

And of course, whilst these scriptures are valid, something vital is constantly overlooked.  And that is the fact that the whole Bible, the whole story of redemption is about marriage.

It begins with a marriage – the Garden of Eden

It ends with a marriage – the marriage supper of the Lamb

And in between is the great and wonderful story of the redemption of humanity through marriage.

The Eternal Truths of Marriage

As followers of Jesus Christ in this post-modern age it is easy to miss the beauty and significance of the eternal truths displayed in marriage.

It is oft-repeated that Jesus never said anything specifically against homosexuality, thus saying in effect, that He condoned it. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact everything Christ said and did was in order to institute a covenant marriage-relationship between Himself, the Bridegroom, and His Church, the Bride.

Jesus used the Jewish marriage customs of the day to illustrate to His Jewish disciples the significance of why He came. We need to remember that Jesus is a Jew and it was to other Jews that He spoke. We, as non-Jews who have been grafted in, can often miss the significance of Christ’s words.  (I have written extensively about this here)

In point form here are just a few of the Jewish marriage customs showing forth Christ’s redemption:

  • The Bride-Price (Mohar)

In ancient Jewish customs the Bride-price was agreed upon by the father and the Bridegroom-to be.  The Bride-price was a very high price to pay. The higher the price that was paid, the less incentive for a young man to divorce his betrothed.  This gave the young woman comfort that her betrothed would in fact return for her after he had finished preparing a place for her in his father’s house.

Jesus Himself paid a very high price for His bride, the ultimate price – He paid with His own blood.  His life was poured out for her.  No higher price has ever been paid than what He paid.

  • Paid in Full

When the young man paid the price in full to the father of the bride the marriage covenant was established….

…and so we see Jesus.  Upon the cross He cries out with a loud voice “It is finished!” (John 19:30)

There He paid in full the debt owed, our debt, for the sin of mankind to the Father.

  • The Glass of Wine

After the bride-price was agreed and paid, the Jewish bride-to-be would be called in and offered a glass of wine to drink. To drink from the cup would show her acceptance of the covenant with the groom.

So too Jesus, the Bride-Groom, offered His disciples a cup of wine.

Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.  This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them.  Mark 14:23

Jesus gives the cup to his disciples at the last supperThis was Christ’s “marriage proposal” to His Bride.  Jesus offered to His disciples the Cup, and in doing so He was instituting the New Covenant.

The Old Covenant was between Jehovah and His Wife, Israel.

The New Covenant is between Christ and His Bride, the Church.

And every time the gospel is proclaimed throughout the world it is Christ once again issuing His marriage-proposal to the lost sinner.

Satan Hates Marriage

And of course, this is why Satan hates marriage. Because every time a man and a woman enter into a marriage-covenant with each other it is proclaiming the victory of the Bridegroom and the redemption of humanity through Christ’s Bride. Marriage is a prophetic sign-post pointing to Christ and His Bride. And more than anything Satan wants that sign-post removed from the earth.  This is the reason he is pushing the gay-marriage agenda so vehemently.

God Loves Marriagejewish-wedding-gift

And of course, this is why God loves marriage. Because He designed it to be a pointer to His beloved Son, Jesus Christ.  He put it in this earth to point to the true marriage of Christ and His Bride.  He wants people to see marriage and to know there is something deep and mysterious shown forth that cannot quite be grasped.  Something that will turn people to Christ and be saved.

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:31, 32

Marriage is the fight of our day. I urge you not to become side-tracked with emotional rhetoric, but to see this issue as it truly is – a spiritual battle.  And one in which the Church must be engaged. Care about this. Pray. Write to your MP’s too.  Encourage church leaders to speak up.  Pray, pray, pray.

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Jesus Christ and the Brazen Altar – Part 2

When God instituted the Mosaic Covenant it was strictly with the nation of Israel. Why then do we, the people of the New Covenant, have an interest in studying it? The answer is varied, but one part of it is this:

  • through the Mosaic Covenant God showed forth some wonderful eternal truths pointing to His Son and the Church.

It is worth looking into these things because it adds layers and depth to our faith as God reveals these truths to us by His Spirit.

In the last post we saw the significance and typology of the materials used in constructing the Brazen

source: mudpreacher.org

source: mudpreacher.org

(or bronze) altar of the Tabernacle of Moses and we saw that the altar was a picture of the cross of Jesus Christ. In this post we will look at the significance of the blood of the altar and how this points to Christ’s atonement for us.

The Altar of Blood

Having just been confronted with the 7.5 feet high linen walls of the Tabernacle, signifying God’s holy righteousness, the sinner enters through the one and only entrance of the Tabernacle – the Gate.

Now the first piece of furniture he encounters is the Brazen Altar. Imagine standing in front of this piece of furniture.  This is where where many, many innocent animals had been slain for the sins of the people. It was not a pretty picture. It was most likely intimidating. The altar was the place of death and blood. The place where the full penalty of sin became gruesomely obvious. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

source. kenraggio.com

source. kenraggio.com

It represented sacrifice, death and blood atonement. For the sinner to proceed any further into the Tabernacle, innocent blood would need to be shed upon this altar on his behalf. Any attempt to bypass this step and approach God without blood would have resulted in death.

“….without the shedding of blood there is no remission (forgiveness of sins)” Hebrews 9:22

No one, not even the High Priest, could approach the Lord except on the basis of innocent shed blood.

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” Leviticus 17:11

The altar demonstrates that the only way a person can meet with God is on the basis of substitutionary atonement. On the basis of BLOOD.

The Blood Covenant

In fact, the Mosaic Covenant became known as the “Blood Covenant” (Hebrews 9:19, 20) due to the huge number of animals that were sacrificed.

“This elaborate sacrificial system with its multiplied continual sacrifices was given for two major reasons.

  • First, it was to illustrate that no amount of continued animal sacrifices could effectively take away man’s sinfulness.
  • Second, it was to point to Christ’s perfect, sinless, and once-for-all sacrifice that could take away man’s sinfulness (Hebrews 9,10).” source (1)

God instructed the Israelites to bring offerings to Him on the Brazen Altar:

Sacrifice Verses Elements Purpose
Burnt Offering Lev 1; Lev 6; Lev 8; Lev 16:24 Bull, ram or male dove. Must be a male without blemish Atonement for unintentional sin; act of worship
Grain Offering Lev 2; Lev 6:14-23 Grain, fine flour, olive oil, incense, baked bread, salt. Always accompanied burnt and fellowship offerings (with drink offerings Act of worship, recognition of God’s goodness and provision; devotion to God
Fellowship/Peace Offering Lev 3; Lev 7:11-34 Any animal without defect or blemish from herd of flock; breads Act of worship, thanksgiving and fellowship (it incl a communal meal)
Sin Offering Lev 4; Lev; Lev 8; Lev 16 1.     Young bull for high priest and congregation

2.     Male goat for leader

3.     Female goat/lamb for common person

4.     Dove/pigeon for the poor

5.     10th of an ephah of fine flour: for the very poor

Mandatory atonement for specific unintentional sin; confession of sin, cleansing from defilement.
Guilt/Trespass Offering Lev 5:14-6:7

Lev 7:1-6

Ram Mandatory atonement for unintentional sin requiring restitution; cleansing from defilement; make restitution; pay 20% fine

Table adapted from NIV Study Bible

 

The Altar & the Blood Point to Christ

“…he must bring to the LORD a young bull without defect as a sin offering for the sin he has committed. He is to present the bull at the entrance to the tent of meeting before the LORD. He is to lay his hand on its head and slaughter it there before the LORD.” Leviticus 4:3, 4

Just as the innocent animal became an offering for the sin of the Israelites, so too Jesus became an offering for the sins of the whole world. The New Testament says:

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 1 Corinthians 5:21

So we see the Altar is a type of Christ because He is:

source:wordlive.org

source:wordlive.org

  • A substitutionary atonement for us,
  • Blemishless because He never sinned,
  • The innocent substitution on our behalf

At the cross Jesus’ blood was poured out and He took the judgment for our sins upon Himself.  All of the animal sacrifices upon the altar pointed to the ultimate sacrifice of God’s perfect, blemishless Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus death upon the cross fulfilled all of the Old Testament sacrifices and did away with them once and for all.

But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come,with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.  For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh,  how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Hebrews 9:11-14

Next post….

  • Outside the Camp
  • How the altar points to the cross

Sources: 1 The Mosaic Covenant, Kevin J Conner & Ken Malmin