Archive for March, 2011

A Reverence for the Perfect Sacrifice
March 12, 2011

First off, in the Torah reading, a commentator noted that, “There is nothing more sacred than our divinely given torah-the very words of God.” Today the Western Church has a low view of God.  The American Church does not view God’s word as a precious treasure, but as a book, which is dusty in the corner of their home. We have lost our fear for the Lord and a reverence for His holy Word.

The Torah reading came from Leviticus 1:1- 5:26 where all the burnt offerings and the grain offerings were explained and mentioned. We see that a burnt offering which was also called “olah” was the smoke and flames of the sacrifice and occurred before the sacred meal. This offering was known as an “attraction” and a gift to God and was a pleasant aroma to Him. Looking at the commentary and the Bible passage, the consequence for sin was a gruesome penalty. I wish the Christian church today had the same disdain for sin as Jewish people do. The reason the Jewish people make so many other laws is so they don’t violate the Ten Commandments. They “fence in” the Ten Commandments to stay far away from sinning as they possibly can. In the Church today, people question how close to sin they can get before it is called sinning, how sad that we have missed the point. Sin is so repulsive to the Lord that He made the Israelites slaughter pure sacrifices and to place the sins of the people on that sacrifice, so they will be forgiven. The sad thing is that the Israelites had a number of sacrifices and had to do them at least once a year in order to be “cleansed of their sin”. However, to be forgiven by the animal sacrifice meant they were “sprinkled with water” and cleansed; once they sinned again they had to kill another sacrifice. But hallelujah for Jesus Christ, the perfect sacrifice who once and for all paid for our sin on the cross, we no longer need animal sacrifice, for the blood of Christ has not only cleansed us of our sin, but has made us white as snow. Now when God looks at us, He sees the righteousness of Christ, our sin is cast away from His eyes as far as the east is from the west. Thank God for the perfect Lamb He has sent!

 

The Journey [from Jericho to Jerusalem]
March 1, 2011

Difficult would be an understatement to describe the 16 mile inclined hike from Jericho up to Jerusalem. This journey paralleled with the journey of my life. I was thrilled to begin this task, with the expectation to have bragging rights to say that I did it (how many people can say they have hiked from Jericho to Jerusalem- most of modern Israelites are not even crazy enough to do it). We began our ascent at the Gate of Jericho where we had many stops that included stopping to talk to locals who rode on donkeys and to have a lunch break in the Judean wilderness. The first half of our hike, I was singing songs with friends, laughing, making jokes, taking pictures. Yes, there was difficult terrain, but I still had strength from the freshness of the hike. We stopped at a half way mark at a gas station, this point I was tired but not weak. The hike continued, but after the gas station, our traveling veered northward to the remnants of the Roman Road. The mountains were much steeper and were more difficult since I had pulled my groin muscle.

"The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches."

There were many times I just wanted to give up, but pulled through it by stretching at certain water breaks. I followed closely behind our fearless leader, Bill, knowing that he knew the best pathway. It wouldn’t always be easy ground, the path we were traveling on was narrow but I trusted that he had a plan and the best possible route for us. Just like in life, I follow closely behind Jesus. He is my fearless leader. The road of life might be narrow, steep, difficult, and leaving us out of breath and in pain all over. There was a point in our hike that we crossed into an area that burned trash; there was mud all over and the stench was unbearable. I could barely walk; I had to mentally tell my brain to keep moving. We all go through rough patches in life where everything around us is not how we want it to be. We are disgusted, in pain, tired, and don’t know if we can get through it. At this time on the hike, not only was I consciously telling my body to move, but I was praying to God that He would provide me with strength enough to finish the hike. I prayed to him for a good two hours when I was in pain; not only get my mind off of my sore muscle but to be encouraged that Christ too did this journey. The journey from Jericho to Jerusalem Jesus did a number of times; His last time was when He took this long journey in order to be crucified. But, Jesus Christ also went through the journey of life. He has been through difficult periods; he knows my pain not only physically but emotionally. The best thing we can do when we face a trial in life is not to give up but to run to God. He allows trials in our lives to strengthen our character and for His name to be glorified. After the rough patch in the hike we went through a Palestinian village where people gave us weird looks and some even threw rock at us. We will be hated because we follow Christ, for even Jesus was despised and rejected by men.  The sun was setting over the Mount of Olives, our final ascent. It was like the light at the end of the tunnel.  This was the steepest mountain thus far but I didn’t feel any pain because I kept looking ahead on top of the mountain towards the setting sun, knowing it was in grasping distance away. But hallelujah, He allowed me to make it to the top and then to the Jerusalem city walls. When I got there, I hugged the wall, knowing I wouldn’t have made it if not for the Lord.  Nothing mattered at that point besides the fact that I was there! I looked back on the miles I traveled to get to where I was and praised God even in the hard times, knowing that He would get the glory in the end. Just like life, we go through trials, so God will get the glory…what an awesome privilege we have to be instruments of righteousness for our great God! The choice we have is to give up when times get rough, wanting a way out; or to follow closely behind our Savior, knowing He will bring us to greener pastures and knows just the route to go. I can’t wait to get to heaven and have a perfect relationship with God and to be in the presence of a Holy God who loves me. Now I can keep looking ahead, knowing there will be a day with no more pain or fear or sin; but until then I will following the Son into the setting sun.  By His map, the Bible, we can get to the end and not say look what I have done, but instead, look what Jesus Christ has done! Let our lives be like a magnifying glass, showing the world our beautiful Savior.