ASSEMBLY TESTIMONY BIBLE CLASS
by J. Riddle
TRUTH FROM TITUS
by B. Currie
THE LEVITICAL OFFERINGS
by T. Wilson
NEW TESTAMENT SYMBOLS
by A. Summers
It is a fact, that many genuine saints of God have never been instructed as to how they ought to refer to Divine Persons. There are those who address God as ‘heavenly Father’, a title that has to do with Israel and an earthly people and that never appears in the N.T. epistles. Others speak of the Lord Jesus as ‘Jesus’ and often use His human name in a repetitive manner, both in prayer and song, to work themselves into an emotional state. Others, with total irreverence, call our beloved Lord "our elder brother". Such language ought never to have a place in the vocabulary of a God-fearing and spiritual saint.
In the N.T. epistles, He was called "Jesus Christ", "Christ Jesus", "the Lord Jesus", "the Lord", "Christ", "the Lord Christ" and "Jesus". However, we ought to note that the authors of the epistles never called Him "Jesus" except when referring to Him as a Man and emphasising His humanity. In the Gospels the name "Jesus" was used often in a historical manner, but never did anyone address Him as "Jesus". They always addressed Him as "Lord" or "Master".
Perhaps the primary manner of referring to our Saviour ought to be our Lord Jesus Christ. This involves His Authority, Lord; His Humanity, Jesus; and His Royalty, Christ. This was the title used in our salvation: "Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" Acts 20.21. This is underlined in Rom.5.1, "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Paul consistently uses it in his greeting to the assembly to which he was writing: Peter, James and John also use this title in their writings. In fact John closes the Bible with this title, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen" Rev.22.21.
It is notable that this title is not reserved for the mature believers, thus giving young Christians license to have a language of their own. Perhaps the earliest of Paul’s writings was 1Thessalonians and it was written to those who were not long saved. In the first verse of his first epistle to them he twice uses this full title: "Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ." He seems to be underscoring the reverence and honour that is His due. In fact, in the two Thessalonian epistles, as read in the A.V., Paul refers to the Son of God as "Lord Jesus Christ" 19 times.
It is through Him in this character that we are preserved: "But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof" Rom.13.14: Paul elicits prayer: "Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ‘s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me" Rom.15.30: He will come and we will be rewarded: "waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ" 1Cor.1.7,8: Discipline is administered, "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" 1Cor.5.4,5. The list is vast and embraces so many aspects of Christian life.
We ought to reverently rejoice that we have a Man in the glory, incessant in His Person, inexhaustible in His glory, incomparable in His office, and this is our Lord Jesus Christ, the One we have the privilege to reverently serve and Whom we may see this very year. May we be preserved in fellowship with Him and embrace with holy awe the wonder that we belong to our Lord Jesus Christ.
For many, 2012 has been a difficult year. A reflection on world conditions offers little to encourage and hopes of any imminent or sustained improvement appear to be ill-founded. It would be quite easy to become depressed, despondent and discouraged. This will inevitably be the case if we "mind earthly things" Phil.3.25.
As we reflect on a year that has just ended and look to the future, there is an ever increasing need to set our "affections on things above, not on the things on the earth" Col.3.2. May we be enabled to fully appreciate that our "conversation, ‘citizenship’ R.V., is in heaven from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ" Phil.3.20. Such a blessed anticipation will regulate our thinking and adjust our estimation of what really matters.
The Committee of "Assembly Testimony" recognises that many of the readers of the magazine have experienced times of testing and difficulty. Against this backdrop, expressions of gratitude and appreciation from all around the world for the help received has been a source of much encouragement to us to continue to meet the need for written ministry that will educate, encourage and edify in the things " most surely believed among us" Lk.1.2. Such continuity would not be possible without the help of so many.
We would like to express our thanks to our Editor for his dedication and thoroughness in the discharge of his responsibilities. Our sincere thanks also go to our accountant for auditing the accounts and for his professional services, the authors of material, proofreaders, printers, distributors, administrators and all who have been of assistance. We would also like to express thanks to all who have supported Assembly Testimony financially. This has allowed us to continue with various publications including the "Glory" series. The demand has been such that this series has had to be reprinted. Work has also started on the translation of the books in this series into the Portuguese language for the benefit of the believers in Brazil.
As we set out on a new year we do so with the assurance that our "God is faithful" 1Cor.1.9, and that He hath "given unto us exceeding great and precious promises" 2Pet.1.4. The promise of the Lord’s soon return becomes increasingly precious in the context of the "last days" when "perilous times shall come" 2Tim.3.1.
by J. Riddle (Cheshunt)
No.7: "Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel"
Read Chapter 4.6-13
We have already noticed that this chapter contains the second of the three messages delivered by God through Amos to Israel, and that the passage may be divided into three sections:
the conduct of God’s people, vv.1-5
the response to God’s people, vv.6-11
the appeal to God’s people, vv.12,13.
THE CONDUCT OF GOD’S PEOPLE, vv.1-5
In this connection, we noted the way in which Amos deals with the wealthy Samaritan women, vv.1-3, and the well-attended shrines, vv.4-5. This brings us to:
THE RESPONSE TO GOD’S PEOPLE, vv.6-11
The Lord now describes His disciplinary measures and their object. Israel had been actively religious, and He had been active too with the object of securing their repentance and return to Him. But to no avail: "Yet have ye not returned unto Me, saith the Lord" vv.6,8,9,10,11. We should note the following:
The Lord cared sufficiently for His erring people to chasten them with a view to their recovery.
In the Hebrew language, the word ‘return’ signifies far more than nominal acknowledgement: it means ‘a return which reaches right up to (and does not stop short of) its mark’ (J.A. Motyer). Motyer then quotes E.B. Pusey: ‘God does not half-forgive, so neither must man half-repent’.
But the nation failed to see the Lord’s correcting hand in it all. Notice that in what follows we have the Lord, in accordance with Deut.28.15-68, implementing the curses of the covenant. He is the covenant-keeping God in every way. God spoke to Israel in various ways and with increasing intensity, culminating with earthquakes, from which they were "as a firebrand plucked out of the burning" v.11.
By Famine, v.6
"And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord". Tooth-picks were not required because there was no food to lodge between their teeth. The ‘prodigal son’ must have known what ‘cleanness of teeth’ was like, and he did return to his father, Lk.15.17-19. Famine in his life had the desired effect.
The Word of God is intended to be "more than our necessary food" Job 23.12, but if it ceases to feed our souls, and we therefore fail to gain its nourishment, something is terribly wrong. It is a sign of spiritual malaise. The godly man ‘delights in the law of the Lord’ Ps.1.2. If the Scriptures have no appeal to us, then we are far from the Lord. This should be a strong ‘wake-up’ call.
By Drought, vv.7,8
"And I also have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered. So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto Me, saith the Lord." So it was selective drought. "The word "rain" here (geshem) denotes the period when copious showers were most needed, three months before the harvest. They were the spring rains that fell in the latter half of February until April, Hos.6.3; Joel 2.23" (M.F. Unger).
Rain is a sign of God’s blessing, and rain (and dew) withheld is a sign of Divine displeasure. See, for example, Deut.28.23,24; 1Kgs.17.1. Note the words "wandered … not satisfied". According to M.F. Unger, the word "wandered" means ‘staggered’ or ‘tottered’. They endeavoured to satisfy themselves by enjoying the blessing of others, but they ‘did not get enough to drink’ (N.I.V.).
By Blight, v.9
"I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmerworm (the locust in its form as ‘the shearer’) devoured them: yet have ye not returned unto Me, saith the Lord." See Deut.28.22. Expectations were unfulfilled. The promised harvests did not materialise, with all the attendant frustration and disappointment.
By Death, v.10
"I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses: and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto Me, saith the Lord". There was loss of potential: "your young men have I slain with the sword". There was loss of power: "and have taken away your horses". It appears that the words, "the stink of your camps", refer to the stench of dead bodies.
In this case, the young men had been slain as the result of Israel’s idolatry and waywardness. It has to be said, however, that while in some cases the loss of young men and women by assemblies is attributable to lack of pastoral care and good leadership, this is not always the case. While aging assemblies have certainly been revived, and continue to flourish, as the result of believers moving into the area, every assembly ought to pray, "Give me children, or else I die" Gen.30.1, and then take steps to ensure that they do not become like Mephibosheth, who became lame when his nurse allowed him to fall, 2Sam.4.4. We must never cease to pray that the Lord will give our local assemblies young men like Joshua, "a young man" who "departed not out of the tabernacle" Ex.11.11, and like "the young men of the princes of the provinces" through whom the Lord defeated the Syrians, 1Kgs.20.13-21.
By Earthquake, v.11
"I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto Me, saith the Lord." The Lord had finally spoken to His people in the most devastating way of all, comparable with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. They had almost suffered complete destruction and their survival is likened to "a firebrand plucked out of the burning". But the Lord still had to say, "yet have ye not returned unto Me".
Far from describing the anger of a vengeful God, these verses, vv.6-11, are an appeal to His people. He had dealt with them in this way, not to destroy them, but to secure their return to Him. But because, after all this, they had not returned to Him, the Lord announces further judgments, and makes a further appeal to them. This brings us to:
THE APPEAL TO GOD’S PEOPLE, vv.12,13
"Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel" v.12. We should notice:
The Announcement, v.12; The Appeal, v.12; The Affirmation, v.13.
The Announcement, v.12
God states His intention to continue these judgments: "Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel". We know that they would culminate in national destruction, 3.11-15, with the resultant lamentation: "The virgin of Israel is fallen; she shall no more rise: she is forsaken upon her land; there is none to raise her up" 5.1-3.
The Appeal, v.12
"And because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel". The oft-quoted words, "prepare to meet thy God", are usually quoted as a warning to sinners of inevitable judgment if they reject His word, and this does seem to be a logical conclusion in view of the preceding verses. But it is also worth considering them differently. After all, what preparation can be made to meet an angry God! Surely the only preparation possible is repentance! This is certainly the message in the next chapter: "For thus saith the Lord unto the house of Israel, Seek ye Me, and ye shall live: but seek not Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal … Seek the Lord, and ye shall live; lest He break out like a fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel" 5.4-6.
It has been pointed out "Wherever the idea of meeting God is found in the Bible, it has a connotation of grace. The nearest parallel to this verse in Amos is Ex.19.17, where Moses leads out the people from the camp ‘to meet God’" (J.A. Motyer). See also Gen.18.2; 19.1; Ex.5.3; Num.23.3; Zech.2.3.
The Affirmation, v.13
The Lord affirms His ability to impart stability and safety to His people. Repentance - preparing to meet God - would give them a security not found in their strongholds ("palaces", A.V.), in their religion, or in their material prosperity. Their security would be vested in "the Lord, the God of hosts". He is incomparable: "For, lo, He that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is His thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, the Lord, The God of hosts, is His name." Compare 5.8; 9.6. He is all-powerful; able to deliver His people. They had sought their own security. He alone could be their true security. Note the covenant name: "The Lord (Jehovah), The God of hosts, is His name".
We should notice His omnipotence: "He that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind"; His omniscience: "and declareth unto man what is his thought (that is, man’s thought: compare Ps.139.2); His omnipresence: "that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth".
Why should Israel resort to Bethel or Gilgal when they could enjoy the presence and blessing of the true God? Why should we seek satisfaction elsewhere when the eternal God is our refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms"? Deut.33.27. Our Saviour is "the true God, and eternal life" 1Jn.5.21.
To be continued (D.V.)
Truth From Titus - Paper 10
by B. Currie (N. Ireland)
This last chapter of Titus has three sections – vv.1-7 the subject is REGENERATION: vv.8-11 deals with REJECTION and vv.12-15 there are REQUESTS. In these next few papers we shall deal with vv.1-7 and the subject of REGENERATION.
The word, "regeneration" occurs only twice in the Bible. These two references are as follows:
Matt.19.28, "And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
Tit.3.5, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost …"
In Matthew’s gospel the subject is NATIONAL; it has to do with CREATION and is in the FUTURE.
In Paul’s letter to Titus it is PERSONAL; it has to do with CHRISTIANS and is in the PRESENT.
There are three terms that, while they are closely related, must be distinguished. These are "quickening"; "born again"; and, the present subject, "regeneration". The main idea in quickening is the IMPARTATION OF DIVINE LIFE. The expression "born again" implies INITIATION TO THE FAMILY. The third expression is the subject of this paper, namely, "regeneration", which means the INTRODUCTION OF A NEW STATE. 1
1. For a more detailed treatment of this subject refer to the Assembly Testimony publication "The Glory of His Grace" chapter 9.
Verses 1-7 may be understood by asking and answering three questions:
Why was regeneration necessary? – The answer is in v.3
How did regeneration come about? – The answer is in vv.4-6
What difference did regeneration make? - The answer is in vv.1, 2 as it relates to our Present Responsibility, and in v.7 as it relates to our Future Destiny.
Why Was Regeneration Necessary?
3.3, "For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another."
Paul includes himself in this description by the use of "we" but he is quick to indicate that this manner of life had all changed and was no longer the way in which neither he nor they lived. Thus he uses the imperfect tense, as he writes, "we … were".
A seven-fold charge is listed against us and, as is usual in Biblical numerics, seven is divided into 3 + 4, or 4 + 3. Seven being the number of completeness, this shows the complete depravity of our spiritual state, prior to regeneration.
The first three are inward and the second four are outward. This is the order because the major problem with unregenerate mankind is inward. This was the conclusion of God in Ps.14.1, "They are corrupt, they have done abominable works…". Notice it commences with what they "are", not what they "do". "They are corrupt" refers to the inward state and as a result we read of what they do, "they have done abominable works…". This inward problem cannot be overcome by any outward panacea. Man’s difficulty cannot be remedied by outward things like religious ordinances such as baptism or partaking of Holy Communion; nor by works of kindness or philanthropy; nor by the provision of better housing, employment or social benefits. Nothing outward can touch the inward problem. Thus the inward needs to addressed before the outward can be corrected.
Inwardly – "foolish, disobedient, deceived"
Foolish - this means senseless, no ability to discern things spiritual, and relates to the Mind. The word is also rendered "foolish" in Gal.3.1, 3; 1Tim.6.9; "fools" in Lk.24.25 and "unwise" in Rom.1.14. We may have been proud of our intellect and powers of reasoning in many spheres of life, but not in spiritual matters.
Disobedient - this is the opposite of being persuaded and this attitude left us hard and unyielding. This relates to the heart. The only other usages of the word as an adjective are Lk.1.17; Acts 26.19; Rom.1.30; 2 Tim.3.2; Tit.1.16.
Deceived - this verb is a Present Participle in the Passive Voice, which means we were being deceived. It has the idea of being led astray and relates to the will. In other passages it is variously translated as, for example, Matt.18.2, "gone astray"; Heb.5.2, "out of the way"; 11.38, "wandered".
Thus inwardly my Mind, Heart and Will were all affected by sin. This led to problems -
Outwardly – "serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another."
Serving - the Present Participle in the Active Voice means that, when unsaved, we constantly pursued this path. This is the word with which many Christians have become familiar, "doulos", and means we served as slaves. Regardless of what unsaved people think, they are not free. What is it they serve?
Divers lusts - note here and also with "pleasures", both are plural. This means every sort and type of depraved and longed-for cravings and desires. It occurs some 38 times as a noun in the New Testament. The only times it is translated other than "lust(s)" are Lk.22.15; Phil.1.23; 1Thess.2.17, "desire"; and Rom.7.8; Col.3.5; 1Thess.4.5, "concupiscence".
Pleasures - the reference is to every sort of natural and sensual desires. The word is only found elsewhere in Lk.8.14; 2 Pet.2.13, "pleasure(s)"; and Jms.4.1, 3, "lusts".
Living - this is another Present Participle in the Active Voice, again meaning this way of life was constantly followed.
Malice - this describes rank badness, with a vicious hardheartedness that has a desire to injure others. It is used in the New Testament as follows: Matt.6.34, "evil"; Acts 8.22, "wickedness"; Rom.1.29; 2Pet.2.16, "maliciousness"; 1Cor.5.8, 14.20; Eph.4.31; Col.3.8; 2Pet.2.1, "malice"; and Jms.1.21, "naughtiness".
Envy - the nine references in the New Testament are all translated, "envy". The word means to want the very thing another person has. It is stronger than jealousy, that wants something similar to another. "Envy" is displeased when another person does well and prospers. An envious person would not, "Rejoice with them that do rejoice…" Rom.12.15.
Hateful- this is the only mention of the word in the N.T. and carries the meaning of ‘being detestable or odious’. Probably it means what we were to others.
Hating one another - the 42 references all carry the thought of being detested. It is another Present Participle in the Active Voice. The implication is that there is no real deep and lasting love and friendship among the unsaved.
How Did Regeneration Come About?
Vv.4-6, "But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour." Just as there was a seven-fold charge against us, we now read of a seven-fold moving of God, showing the completeness of our salvation.
We note that this "appeared". This word, as a verb, is only elsewhere in Lk.1.79, "To give light"; Acts 27.20, "appeared" and in this epistle at 2.11, "hath appeared". The meaning is that it shone forth. It was formerly hidden but now made manifest. This glorious message of regeneration through the death of the Lord Jesus was not in the O.T. but is the subject of N.T. revelation. We search in vain to find this, or any other doctrine related to the church, in the O.T.
We also must appreciate that regeneration did not come from within man. We did not deserve it nor could we merit it and so God had to move. For this reason in the seven-fold movement of God we read of the Trinity – v.4, "God"; v.5, "the Holy Ghost"; v.6, "Jesus Christ".
These seven actions are:
Kindness - this is variously translated as, "goodness", Rom.2.4; 11:22; "good", Rom.3.12; "kindness" 2Cor.6.6; Eph.2.7; Col.3.12; and "gentleness", Gal.5.22. It is kindness or goodness that shows itself in the life by works of this character. It can be summarised as "goodness in action", W. E. Vine.
Love - this is our word "philanthropy" which here means God’s love of man. This cannot be explained but is to be enjoyed. It obviously stands in great contrast to the description of "hateful and hating one another." The One Who loved us was "God our Saviour". This is characteristic of the Pastoral Epistles and reveals the power and greatness of the One Who saves. Salvation is a task far beyond the ability of any man or company of men.
It is now further explained and lest we make any mistake, we are told how it did not come about and how it did come about. That is, it is both negatively and positively taught as seen in the expression in v.5, "Not ... but".
3.5, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;"
The first part of the verse is teaching us the vital truth that man’s works have no part to play in his salvation. It literally reads, "not out of [ek] works in [en] righteousness." The source is not "works" and the sphere is not "righteousness". God does not save us because of what we have done or will do; our good works do not influence God in His dealings with individuals. In this great matter our effort is futile and worthless. This is constantly underlined in Paul’s writings, as may be gleaned by reference to the following representative Scriptures. Rom.3.28; 4.5; Gal.2.16; Eph.2.8, 9; and 2Tim.1.9.
His mercy - this is the origin of this great blessing – it comes from Him and as a result of His mercy. Mercy "is the outward manifestation of pity; it assumes need on the part of him who receives it, and resources adequate to meet the need on the part of him who shows it", W. E. Vine. It is God’s pity towards the afflicted with the desire and ability to help. We could visit some hospital ward and see the patients in suffering. Our hearts may go out to them in pity but we do not have the wherewithal to meet the need. We praise His name that He had the ability to accomplish what His pity prompted.
He saved us - this is what He accomplished, the totality of salvation. The aorist tense indicates that there was a point when this happened and at that time the event was complete in itself. Salvation is not a process; it is instantaneous the moment a sinner puts faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as his Saviour. It does not say, "He helped us". He did it all.
To be continued (D.V.)
by Tom Wilson (Scotland)
THE NON-SAVOUR OFFERINGS - THE SIN OFFERING
(For this study please read Leviticus 4.1-5.13.)
After three chapters dealing with voluntary offerings, we enter three chapters that begin: "If a soul sin …" 4.1; 5.1; 6.2. The obligatory nature of the offerings in chapters 4, 5, 6 is evident; if that soul that has sinned is to know communion with God, the sin question must be dealt with, for one or more of the negative commands has been broken, vv.2,13,22,27. 1Jn.2.1 also states: "… if any man sin …" as it sets out how, in this period, communion can be restored through the work of Jesus Christ the Righteous, the propitiation for our sins.
In the larger section 4.1-6.7, within which the sin offering statutes are placed, three word groups related to sin are to be found. Not surprisingly, they are not used carelessly. One word group (Strong 817) carries the sense of "going astray", or "inadvertence"; see Job 6.24; Isa 28.7. A second word group (Strong 4604) is used only where offences are against the Lord Himself. It describes "a direct affront to the Lord," so is never qualified by the phrase "through ignorance." The third (Strong 2398) describes a less-treacherous sin.
Not only are there degrees of sinfulness in 4.1-6,7, there are also degrees of guilt. Three phrases show how meticulous are the standards of Israel’s holy God: "through ignorance" 4.2,13,22,27; "hid from the eyes" 4.13; 5.2-4; and "come to his knowledge" 4.28; 5.3,4. That God "is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight" Heb.4.12,13. He is well able to discern the degree of culpability in whoever sinned against any one of His negative commandments.
How strange that 1500 years after they became custodians of God’s law, Israel should hear Peter say to them: "I wot (know) that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers" Acts 3.17. The nation was guilty of sins of ignorance. Some years later, Saul of Tarsus, who had been one of their aspiring rulers, owned he had been "a blasphemer, and a persecutor and injurious"; he added: "But I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief" 1Tim.1.13. In Leviticus chapter 4, the Lord presents four cases to guide the nation in dealing with sins of ignorance; they concern: the priest that is anointed, the whole congregation, a ruler and one of the common people. Even in a people, who had experienced the redemption and had God’s law, sin could arise with far-reaching consequences.
WHEN THE ANOINTED PRIEST SINNED
The priest in view is the high priest, the one 21.10 describes as one "upon whose head the anointing oil was poured and that is consecrated to put on the garments". All the priests were anointed, Ex.28.41; 30.30; Num.3.3, but Aaron was first anointed, notes Ex.40.15; and there was a distinctive feature about his anointing from the anointing of his sons: Aaron and his sons were to be marked by blood and anointed with oil; in Aaron’s case the blood did not precede the anointing with oil, but it did in the case of his sons, Lev.8.10-30. The high priest’s sin could bring grave consequence upon the nation, as v.3 R.V. indicates: "if the anointed priest shall sin, so as to bring guilt on the people …" where the A.V. reads "according to the sin of the people." The nature of the sin that might bring guilt on the people is not specified. Some suggest that a wrong decision in a case the priest would hear could leave the people with no one to mediate for them before the Lord.
How appalling that any priest should sin! Given that the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, Mal.2.7, the Lord does not add the phrases "through ignorance"; "hid from the eyes" and "come to his knowledge". To the high priest, much had been given, not just in terms of status but in terms of access to God and His Word; of him, therefore much was required, Lk.12.48. Isaiah would later write: "Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord" Isa 52.11. We read and caution ourselves: "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall" 1Cor.10.12. Paul writes in a chapter related to elders: "Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear" 1Tim.5.20.
Reports of a high priest’s sin might not travel speedily from Dan to Beersheba, but its effects would be felt in every town and village in Israel, if the nation’s formal link with their God was broken through the high priest’s sin. The ritual to effect recovery would not be limited to the court as in the cases involving a ruler’s sin or that of one of "the people of the land". The sprinkling of blood seven times before the veil of the sanctuary and the smearing of blood on the horns of the golden altar indicate the effect of sin on the intercessory ministrations in the holy place.
The Divine requirements for the anointed priest’s sin offering and the sacrifice of peace offering involved the same fat and other inward parts being burned on the brazen altar, but this time there is no statement about the fragrant odour as at 3.5. Nor does the high priest hear those reassuring words, "it shall be forgiven him", that are recorded of the congregation, the ruler and one of the people, vv.20,26,35; 5.10,13. These come in those other cases in the immediate context of the priest’s work on their behalf. How salutary the lesson for the high priest!
Equally salutary would be burning of the bullock to ashes outside the camp. For the Christian, such references cause reflection on the One Who suffered without the gate "that He might sanctify the people with His own blood" Heb.13.12. The high priest would realise that in an evident way, his sin had distanced him from God Who daily had graciously welcomed him into the holy place.
WHEN THE WHOLE CONGREGATION SINNED
The telling phrase "before the Lord" occurs three times in respect of the anointed priest’s activities for his own sin, vv.4 (twice),7; and four times for the congregation’s sin, vv.15 (twice),17,18. It occurs once in connection with the ruler’s sin, v.24. The phrase reminds every thoughtful reader that sin cannot be swept under the carpet, even if it is the sin of the anointed priest, a ruler or the whole congregation within which there would be other men of considerable standing. The Lord’s eye did not miss any sin committed and, before the Lord, the requirements that might bring restoration must take place.
Rashi, the 11th century Jewish scholar interprets "the whole congregation" v.13 as the Great Sanhedrin. It is unlikely that a body structured like the Great Sanhedrin was functioning in Moses’ lifetime. Rashi may be using the term to describe the elders, who laid their hands (heavily) on the young bullock’s head. It is not clear whether their actions or decisions may have caused the breach, described as a sin of ignorance, v.14.
The ritual of the sin offering for the whole congregation is that for the sin of the anointed priest, for his sin compromised the whole congregation’s welfare. The record of it closes with a statement that will be echoed in the ritual for one of the common people who has sinned: "It is a sin offering for the congregation" v.21.
WHEN ONE OF THE RULERS SINNED
The ruler’s awareness of his sin is carefully described in the three statements of guilt noted above. He may have sinned inadvertently because the commandment he breached, although once learned, had slipped out of his conscious memory for a time, or only after he sinned, had it come to his attention (perhaps through another person) that his action had broken a commandment.
As a ruler, his influence would not be as great as the priest, but his sin might lead others astray. He needed forgiveness, and so for his purification he was to bring a male goat without blemish, the gender being a reminder of his standing in the community.
The ritual is understandably different from that considered above. The ruler had no right to venture into the Holy Place to stand before the veil or to view priestly ministrations at the golden altar, so the ritual is focussed on the altar of burnt offering. The application of the blood secured his purification and his right to bring a burnt or peace offering to that altar. The blood poured out at the base of the altar would enforce the lesson that there is no other basis on which to approach a holy God. Two words might matter to him as later he re-enacted the ritual in his meditations: "It is a sin offering" and "forgiven" vv.24,26.
WHEN ONE OF PEOPLE OF THE LAND SINNED
Sin in Israel was never restricted to the priest and the ruler. Among the common people sins were committed. Those sins, we learn from the legislation for a high priest’s sin and from the sin of one of the people of the land that at both ends of the spectrum, there is the possibility of doing "things which ought not to be done", vv.2,27. All between the two ends should therefore be aware of the potential of the human heart. The N.T. Scriptures do list things we ought not to do, Rom.6.12,13; 1Cor.5.9-12; Gal.5.19-21; Eph.5.3-6; Col.3.5-9; 1Pet.2.1; and things we ought not to say or teach, 1Tim.5.13; Tit.1.11. But the N.T. lists many things that believers ought to do; they ought to "obey God, rather than men"; "support the weak"; "bear the infirmities of the weak"; "lay down our lives for the brethren"; "love one another," Acts 5.29; 20.35; Rom.15.1; 1Jn.2.16; 4.11. In the assembly of God, there is a way in which we ought to behave, 1 Tim.3.15; the males ought to pray, and not sit silent, 1Tim.2.8; a woman ought to have her head covered, 1Cor.11.5,10. Today the child of God should know what he ought not to do or say, and what he ought to do. Any infraction is sin.
The understanding shown in this case is remarkable. Not only is provision made to ensure that the man in straitened circumstances understood the meaning of sin, but also that he would be able to bring his sin offering. The sinner might be at any one of the three levels of culpability noted above, 4.27,28. At both 5.3,4 two levels of culpability are considered. The phrase "through ignorance" is not included. But in this case dealing with the people of the land, the Lord provided some case laws for them to consider. The common people mattered to Him, as much as the priest or the ruler, so He sought their restoration to Himself.
The range of offerings that might be brought reveals the depth of Divine love for the people. Ideally, they should bring a female kid of the goats or a young ewe from the sheep, 4.28,32; 5.6. Remarkably, the Lord goes further; twice we read, "if he be not able" vv.7,11. The poor commoner learns that two turtledoves or young pigeons would be acceptable; that failing, the tenth part of an ephah of flour, only a handful of which God would claim.
In each of the two additional provisions for the poor man, heaven honours his exercise: in respect of two birds, "it is a sin offering" v.9; in respect of the fine flour, "it is a sin offering" vv.11,12. But more: one of the two birds became a burnt offering, v.10; and the remainder of the fine flour a meal offering, v.13. In both extreme cases, the glorious words of forgiveness are heard, vv.10,13.
To be continued (D.V.)
A. Summers (Scotland)
Paper 2 – THE BREAD AND THE CUP, Part 1
The bread and the cup first appear at the Last Supper, so called because it was the last meal the Lord had with His disciples before He died. It was no ordinary meal. It was the Passover supper, a meal laden with the symbolism that is characteristic of the Old Covenant. Out of that meal however emerged another simpler meal which came to be called the Lord’s Supper, 1Cor.11.20, or Breaking of Bread, Acts 2.42. The first Breaking of Bread was unique in a number of respects. It was celebrated by the Lord’s disciples and not by a church. It probably occurred on a Thursday and certainly not on a Sunday. It was graced by the Lord’s physical presence and not His spiritual presence. Over a period of about fifty days after the Lord’s crucifixion it would appear that there were no further Breakings of Bread until Pentecost came. Thereafter the church at Jerusalem was formed and began to break bread each Lord’s Day. It has been continued by the Church from that day to this.
THE SYMBOLISM OF THE EMBLEMS
Whereas baptism involves a single liquid element (water); the Lord’s Supper involves a solid element (bread) and a liquid element (wine). The bread and wine parallel the body and blood of Christ. The Lord Jesus made this explicit when He inaugurated the Lord’s Supper before He went to the cross; see e.g. Lk.22.19, 20.
In interpreting this pair of symbols it is necessary to bear in mind that the phrase "breaking of bread" had a meaning in everyday life in N.T. times that is not obvious to the modern reader. It was a phrase that signified the eating of a meal usually in the company of others, e.g. Lk.24.35; Acts 27.35. This is part of the explanation of why the eating of the bread and the drinking of the cup came to be called the "Lord’s Supper". The word "supper" (deipnon) is the common word in Scripture for a meal, or more specifically, the main meal of the day, see e.g. Lk.14.12; Jn.13.2,4; 1Cor.11.20,21. With this in mind we can see that the use of the phrase "the breaking of bread" was designed to emphasise in the minds of these early Christians that the bread and wine represented a meal with a spiritual significance. It indicates that the life and death of the Lord Jesus is necessary for our spiritual life just as physical food is necessary for natural life. Bread is an almost universal symbol of that which nourishes life. The Bible uses the expression the "staff of bread"1 (e.g. Lev.26.26) to show how bread supports life. Wine by contrast is not normally the liquid associated with support for life. That is a role normally reserved for water. It is interesting therefore that the Lord did not fill the cup with water as a symbol of that which supports life. Instead He chose wine which by virtue (implicitly) of its colour, was designed to be a vivid symbol of blood.
- 1. Possibly the source of the description of bread as the staff of life.
What is the significance of blood? In Scripture, blood is symbolic of life. Thus in the O.T. blood was treated as the life force of the animal, Lev.17.11a. When an animal was offered in sacrifice the priest shed its blood and he would then offer it as the emblem of death, Lev.17.11b; Heb.9.22. There is no saving merit in blood as such i.e. in the chemical compound of plasma, platelets, white cells etc. The merit of blood in the offerings was that it symbolised the death of the sacrifice. Thus when Scripture speaks of the "precious blood" of Christ, 1Pet.1.19, our attention is being drawn to His sacrificial death and its infinite value. Though there is another sense in which His actual blood was precious (because everything about the Lord was precious) that is not the point Peter is making. Thus when we read in Rev.7.14 of those whose robes were made white in the "blood of the Lamb" we are not thinking of actual blood (which stains) but the death of Christ (which cleanses). Seeing this resolves the need to agonise over the fact that His blood was shed after He had died, Jn.19.33,34. He had already cried "finished" thus completing the work of propitiation and reconciliation.
The Lord taught that "this cup is the new testament (or covenant) in My blood" Lk.22.21. What does that mean? The word "covenant" is a word that is not in common usage today (except in the legal profession) but has a straightforward meaning. It describes an arrangement, usually between two parties, which involves mutual obligations. At Sinai, Jehovah gave Israel the Law and promised that if they kept it He would bless them, Exodus chapters 19 and 20. This covenant is called in Heb.8.13 the "old" covenant in contrast to the "new" covenant. Israel had been promised a "new covenant", Jer.31.31, which would supersede the covenant of Law. Its main feature was that the Lord would forgive sins permanently and He would give the power to live for God, Jer.31.33. This promise was realised with the death of Christ which enabled sin to be dealt with finally and completely. As Paul explains in 2Corinthians chapter 3, the gift of the Spirit enables believers to live for God in a way that was impossible under the law. Although many insist that the new covenant has not come into effect it is clear from the Lord’s words in Matt.26.28; Lk.22.21; Heb.8.1- 9.28 and 2Cor.3.6-18 that the church today enjoys the spiritual blessing of the new covenant i.e. forgiveness of sin and power to live for God. Israel will receive the temporal and physical blessings promised to her under the new covenant when Christ comes to reign. The cup "is the new covenant" in the sense that it is a symbol of the new covenant (sometimes called the "New Testament"). His blood had to be shed in order to enable God to forgive our sins and for the Spirit to enter the life. The cup therefore symbolises the fact that in order for God to provide the blessings of the new covenant to the church the Lord Jesus had to die for sin.
It is sometimes correctly pointed out that Scripture speaks of the "cup" and not the wine. Nothing, however, turns on the distinction since the cup represents the wine which it contains. This is an example of a way of speaking by which one thing (the cup) stands for another thing (the wine). Linguists call this metonymy. We might say about someone that they are "on the bottle". In this phrase "the bottle" represents the contents of the bottle. A Scriptural example is in Luke chapter 15 where the prodigal sons says "I have sinned against heaven" meaning I have sinned against God, the One Who inhabits heaven. Another is "They have Moses (i.e., his writings) and the prophets (i.e., their writings); let them hear them" Lk.16.29. Thus the cup represents the wine that it holds. The cup is the vessel containing the wine that signifies the blood or death of Christ. No commandment is given as to the type or design of the cup save (as we shall see) that it should be large enough to supply all present.
Care should be taken to notice that not every cup mentioned at the Last Supper was the cup used by the Lord to represent His blood. The Passover meal entailed the use of four cups. One of them is mentioned in Lk.22.14-18 where the Lord reminded the disciples that the symbolism of the Passover will only be fully realised when His kingdom is set up on earth. Thereafter, however, He took a loaf and another cup and instituted the Lord’s Supper which has been observed by the church to this day.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE EMBLEMS
As we have noticed above, the phrase "breaking of bread" had a secular meaning in N.T. times that signified the sharing of a common meal. Accordingly when we read of the disciples breaking bread in Acts 2.42; 20.7 the lack of any reference to the cup does not infer that they did not drink the cup since the phrase was apt to cover both the bread and the cup. Thus we can describe the Lord’s Supper as "the Breaking of Bread" without implying that the cup is not taken (see 1Cor.10.16).
There are two occasions in Scripture where the expression is used in the spiritual and secular sense side by side. In Acts 2.42-46 we read that the church at Jerusalem, "continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers … And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart." In Acts 20.7-11 we read, "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight ... When he [Eutychus] therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed."
In both these passages the first reference to "breaking of bread" is to the Lord’s Supper and the second to a common meal. This is clear because in Acts 2.46 Luke records that when they broke bread they "did eat their meat (food)" which indicates an ordinary meal and in 20.11 he says "when he ... had broken bread and eaten" which indicates that he ate a meal whereas earlier the 'disciples' had broken bread together.
Some good brethren believe that the act of breaking open the loaf symbolises the sufferings of Christ on the cross and rely on the phrase "this is My body which is broken for you" in 1Cor.11.24 to support this understanding. There are three points that need to be made in this connection.
Firstly, Scripture teaches that His bones, which give the body its shape and structure, were unbroken, Jn.19.36. This would remind us that we cannot carry Isa.52.14, "His visage was marred more than any man and His form more than the sons of men", too far. His body remained intact. Thus although His flesh was broken when pierced by the nails and cut by the whip it is not correct to imagine that the act of taking a loaf and breaking it in two has any direct parallel to what happened to the body of the Lord. He was not cloven asunder. It is true that metaphorically His heart was "broken" Ps.69.20, but that is not a matter connected to the bread that represents His body. It is suggested therefore that if at the Lord’s Supper someone does break the loaf into two pieces we should not connect that act with any physical breaking of His body. It is also suggested that the act of breaking the bread does not refer to the wounding of His body since there does not appear to be any analogy between that and the dividing of a loaf.
Secondly it is necessary to pay close attention to how the phrase "breaking of bread" is used in the N.T. It has two distinct but related meanings. It refers to the act whereby the host ceremonially takes bread and divides it so that others may eat but it also refers to the participation of others in the food provided. Thus in Matt.26.26 the Lord broke the bread and gave it to the disciples. This clearly refers to His act of breaking the bread. But Scripture also describes the breaking of bread as a communal act. Thus churches, Acts 2.42, and disciples, Acts 20.7, break bread. The author of this paper takes the view that when we attend the Lord’s Supper we break bread when we take our morsel from the loaf. Although the Lord broke the bread and the disciples thereafter ate it, both acts are subsumed in the Breaking of Bread. If, as has been suggested above, breaking of bread has also the wider meaning of participation in a communal meal, then it would be wrong to narrow the breaking of bread down to a single act of "breaking" performed by one man (whether representatively or not). Thus, if breaking bread means that we take a piece from the loaf and eat it, our thoughts are mainly directed to the idea that we participate in the benefits of His life and death and that we are sustained by Him.
Thirdly most translations (e.g. R.V., J.N.D., E.S.V.) drop the word "broken" in 1Cor.11.24 because of a lack of reliable manuscript evidence. They read "this is my body which is for you". This agrees with Luke’s account of the Lord’s words "this is My body which is given for you" Lk.22.19.
To be continued (D.V.)
by Walter A. Boyd (N. Ireland)
The apostle Paul wrote two epistles that contain interesting autobiographical material that he presents in a discreet way. He is not boasting but relating his experiences with God along the pathway of the many journeys that he made. In Philippians he wrote of the nature of his servant-hood, and in second Corinthians he wrote of the nature of his suffering.
To read completely the second epistle to the Corinthians, gives the reader a feel for the depth of his suffering and the breadth of his experience in the work of the Lord. He records details of his anxieties and anguish in chapter 4, and the events that created them in chapter 11. As we read the experiences of the apostle Paul in our N.T., we get the picture of a great man, who has down-to-earth problems just like you and me! His experience of those problems qualifies him to give us advice for our problems. Advice from Paul is not the advice of an armchair expert – he has known what it is to suffer under the burden of misrepresentation, opposition and physical ailments.
It is very instructive to observe that, while Paul lists various causes of affliction in his life, he identifies only one source of help: "the God of all comfort" 1.3. It was while exercised in prayer about an affliction before the God of all comfort that he heard God say, "My grace is sufficient for thee" 12.9.
The Reason for Paul’s trouble is given in 1.5 as "the sufferings of Christ". We are not left to wonder why he should suffer; Paul knew that suffering "abounded" in him because of his links to the risen Christ. If we are living for God, the same experience will come our way. Our experiences may not be identical to Paul’s, e.g. shipwreck; but because of our links to the risen Christ there will be sufferings. There may be direct suffering through association to His glorious name: persecution, ridicule and discrimination by the world. There may be indirect suffering by adherence to the principles of His Word. A businessman living his life for the glory of the risen Christ will not engage in shady deals to get advantage over a competitor and to get personal gain. A Christian living for Christ in the work place will not "hide his light under a bushel", but readily identify himself with Christ and His Word.
The Results of Paul’s trouble are stated by his repeated use of the word "that": "that we may be able to comfort others in affliction" 1.4. It is only possible to comfort others in their tribulation if we have, ourselves, passed through a similar experience. Paul’s comfort in this chapter was no mere textbook theory: he had proved the comfort that comes from "the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort" 1.3. After having suffered we will be able to identify with others’ suffering. We will be able to see that they are suffering. Too often, a saint is suffering beneath a darkened sky and there is no one who sees what he is going through. One who has also suffered will have an inbuilt desire to help him who is going through a similar trial. As we emerge from an experience of suffering, it is wise to be alert to the needs of others and try to help.
Another reason for sufferings is "that we should not trust in ourselves but in God" 1.9. God allows suffering to enter our lives so that we would trust in Him. We should be able to thank God for troubles that deepen our trust in Him. A life without trouble would lead to insufferable pride. So we ought not to resent affliction; nor should we question God as to why He has allowed it to happen. If we accept suffering as an instrument designed by God, it will deepen our trust in Him and spiritually enrich us.
Paul explains his sufferings as a catalyst for prayer: "that ... thanks may be given by many" 1.11. God allowed Paul to suffer, and fellow believers prayed for him in that suffering. God granted deliverance to Paul, and as the believers in that day undoubtedly praised God for answering their prayers, so can we in our own experiences. Paul is helped, believers are encouraged and God is glorified. How gracious of God to allow us a small part in bringing glory to Him by our deliverance from suffering.
The Resource in trouble for Paul is His God. He describes it as a Family experience: "The Father of mercies" 1.3. He receives all the care of a father towards a child. Just as a father will not stand by and allow his child to suffer, God will ensure that His children enjoy the warmth and support of His strong and fatherly arms. He describes it as a Divine experience: "The God of all comfort" 1.3. Every kind of comfort that we need is given directly by God. He describes it as a Christian experience: "our consolation aboundeth through Christ" 1.5. Only Christians, those who are linked to Christ, know this consolation. He describes it as a gracious experience: "By the grace of God we had our conversation in the world" 1.12. The grace of God brought him into the family, made him a Christian and put him in touch with God. It was by grace that he lived each day "in the world". As he lived in the world, he experienced trials and suffering which provided further opportunity for the grace of God to be shown to him. Grace is not just experienced at conversion; it is enjoyed every day of life down here.
God intended that suffering would result in an increased spirituality that would be manifested in our lives. Suffering ought not to make us hard to live with. Christians who experience the grace of God in trials are not ‘grumpy’, miserable souls. May we learn the important lesson of turning life’s ‘negative’ events into experiences with God. Try to understand the reason for the trial. But if that is not obvious there is something better: "And the peace of God, which passeth [is better than] all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" – to enjoy the peace of God in the trial. Endeavour to use what has been learned in the trial as advice and sympathy are imparted to others who are suffering. Above all, lean hard upon your God.
In the city of Melbourne, Australia, there is a very impressive shrine in memory of those from the state of Victoria who gave their lives for their country in times of war. The shrine was built between July 1928 and November 1934 in memory of the thousands from Victoria who served and died in the 1914 -1918 war. It has been a growing monument with other memorials added to the site as Australian soldiers fought in various campaigns. Queen Elizabeth II dedicated the forecourt in 1954 to those who served in the 1939 - 1945 war. There is a prominent inscription that declares, "Let all men know that this is holy ground". This is recognition that there is something very special about those who died on behalf of others.
One of the most interesting features is a plaque inside the main building that bears the words "Greater love hath no man". This is a partial quotation of John 15.13, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends". A ray of light is directed onto the word ‘love’ at 11.00 am on the 11th of the 11th month marking the hour and day of the armistice that formally ended the second World War. How good to reflect with sincere thanks on the sacrifice of so many that led to the war being over.
To ponder the greatness of love we must really turn away from all that is of man and that may be sentimental, and think of the love of God. As quoted above, these men died for their friends and fellowcitizens, but the contrast with Divine love is immense. "For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us…For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" Romans 5.7,8,10. The enmity between God and us was caused by sin. James plainly declares that we can test whether or not we are enemies of God, "know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" James 4.4. If our ambition is wholly for this world; its pleasures, pursuits, power, prestige and popularity, then we are constituted enemies of God. Again Paul wrote, "the carnal mind is enmity against God" Romans 8.7. Thus we are enemies by what we are, what we do and how we think.
Despite this, God loved us and gave His Son to die for us. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" John 3.16.
No man of greater love can boast
Than for his friend to die;
Thou for Thine enemies wast slain:
What love with Thine can vie?
... (J Stennett)
This love wrought salvation, leaving the basis for sinners to be reconciled to God, because it was done perfectly and forever. Prior to dismissing His spirit and entering into death, the Lord Jesus Christ said, "It is finished" John 19.30, and the work was completely done. It needs no addition or repetition and certainly there is nothing we can do to assist in the matter. Salvation is offered freely to all mankind and the enemy who accepts Him by faith and rests totally upon Him, that person will be reconciled and rather than being an enemy of God, will be His friend. It is obvious which relationship is best!