There are times, as we prayerfully interact with the word of God, where we are taken beyond the ink an page it is written on. We are thankful that all scripture is given by inspiration of God (God-breathed) and is profitable doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (II Timothy 3:15-17).
We understand, in its simplest characterization, inspiration means holy men of God (set apart for God’s purpose alone), spoke and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (II Peter 1:20-21). In the original writings of the prophets, and apostles, His God breathed word is inerrant (meaning without error) and infallible (unable to lead one astray).
The word of God, in its infallibility, extends to us through painstakingly accurate manuscripts into reliable translations. As we affirm is the word of God was penned by men writing as moved by His Holy Spirit (and under His direct superintendency; so His word must be understood as the Holy Spirit illuminates what we hear and read. This essentially is what our Lord Jesus declares is one of the varied characteristics of the ministry of the Holy Spirit to us.
John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
Or similarly in I Corinthians 2:14…
1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Why is this understanding so important? Because often times, well-meaning Christians and flock-fleecing false teachers and false prophets (and there are a slew of them today), not only blow by practical considerations such as context, historicity and even grammar, but force, their special “anointed” understanding on a passage. When this takes place everybody loses.
Why am I rambling on about this? Because at times, especially dealing with Old Testament passages, we miss God’s intended purpose being bored, or insensitive to it’s place in comforting the saints or insensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading.
Let us understand God has a purpose to those who first receive His word, and a purpose of communicating something to those of us in the N.T. period. In this illumination, we see many Old Testament people, religious functions and events, as models or types of what is to come. For context sake, consider Noah and the ark. I Peter 3:18-22 reveals Noah’s ark as a type of Christ, something that points to what men must do to avoid God’s wrath forever: Forsake the world, get into the Ark, Christ is the only place of protection from God’s wrath.
When handled appropriately, as discussed above, we are called to a more intimate, intrusive, and practical need for our walk with Christ. In these moments, when the Holy Spirit is taking us beyond the dried ink upon the page, we truly see the height, width, and depth of His intention for us. These moments can be truly remarkable.
Consider Jesus’ teaching in Matthew five concerning murder, adultery, and how we treat our enemies. When dealing with murder, our Lord reveals undue anger and character assassination, to be as egregious as the physical act of killing. When dealing with adultery, we are given understanding that thinking about unlawful sex, in lust, is committing the act. Finally, we come to understand that God leaves no justification for hatred of enemies, but we are to treat them as neighbors loving them unselfishly in tangible ways.
Jesus taking His listeners beyond the ink and page (concerning the commandments), into the depth of His purpose for His commands. This is the deep dive, we need the Holy Spirit to navigate; Let’s admit to stay at the surface rather than connect with Him at the foundation, is to undermine His purpose in our redemption.
This is part of the problem with modern Christianity. Like the Titanic, we steam along and see the iceberg ahead, being complacent to have a modified moral behavior, we stare at the surface. Judging by what is seen, we believe we have time and room to take evasive measures, when necessary. Until… BAM!
We are sinking. We missed the largest volume of the iceberg below the surface. This became apparent to me this past week while reading in Exodus 30.
Admittedly, Exodus can be a challenging read for western Christians, beyond the first 22 chapters. In the first half we read the exciting account of YHWH delivering Israel from Egypt—the move through the wilderness—we read of Moses receiving the Ten Commandments and the golden calf. Then, a lot of stuff related to Jewish tabernacle religion and worship… SNORE!
It is true that dealing with O.T. passages concerning the finer points of Jewish religious procedure and decoration can be difficult. But it is God’s word, and therefore it is important we prayerfully experience the truth in the words and what lies above and beneath. Even in passages on Jewish religion, the LORD, working through types and shadows, is revealing powerful truth concerning His character—and powerful and profound truth about our relationship to Christ. Let us look at Exodus 30:17-22.
Exodus 30:17-21 (NKJV) Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: “You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base also of bronze, for washing. You shall put it between the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. And you shall put water in it, for Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in water from it. When they go into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to the LORD, they shall wash with water, lest they die. So they shall wash their hands and their feet, lest they die. And it shall be a statute forever to them—to him and his descendants throughout their generations.”
From our passage, it is important to understand some context. The alter was where the sacrificial animals would be offered as burnt offerings. This was an important aspect of atonement for sin, which was not only the shedding of the blood, but the sacrificial animal being completely consumed (being burned), in the service of God, for the purpose of atonement. The alter and what took place on it, prefigures our calling in Christ as individuals to be a “living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to the Lord which is our responsible service” (Romans 12:1). A little later we will look into this calling.
The tabernacle of meeting was the structure where the priest would enter to encounter the presence of God and offer blood upon the mercy seat in the Holiest Place. Of course, the temple of meeting had other elements included, such as the golden lamp-stand burning with seven branches (a type representing the 7 fold character of the Holy Spirit, burning always, with continually flowing oil)—the table of the bread of His presence (man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word from the mouth of God)—the alter of incense (for the purpose of pointing to the time when with boldness we can appear before His throne to obtain mercy and grace in time of need)—and finally the veil and behind it the Ark of the Covenant, with the mercy seat on its top (where the blood of atonement was placed). Everyone of these elements reveals something about the Messiah to come.
While I read the passage, two questions came to mind. “Why the stipulation to wash, when going between the tabernacle of meeting and the alter? Why was it so important, that death would come should the priests not obey the command? The answer to that question will be handled in part two of this teaching in a few days.
Until then, let me encourage you to practice a new prayer and attitude before approaching the word of God.
“Abba Father, you know all things and I do not. Enable me to understand your word. I ask you for wisdom. Bless me to understand what I hear from your word, that I may walk in it by faith. Teach me understand the life and times of those who were first to hear your word, and illuminate the beauty of hearing Your voice in what is written, that I may not impose my preconceived ideas upon your revelation. Bless me indeed to rejoice in the intimacy I can share with Christ, the Living Word, as He speaks when I experience the the word of God written on the page.
In Jesus name.