Daily Devotional: Monday, April 6, 2020

Calvary’s Anthem from the Valley of Vision

Heavenly Father,

Thou hast led me singing to the cross where I fling down all my burdens and see them vanish, where my mountains of guilt  are levelled to a plain, where my sins disappear, though they are the greatest that exist, and are more in number than the grains of fine sand.

Thank you, most dear Father, for the gift of thy eternal Son, the Holy One given for my sins.  The perfectly Righteous One punished beyond human despair for my unrighteousness.  Stir my heart to give thanks daily, hourly, and moment by moment for the gift I can never repay!  Work in me, Holy Spirit, to worship and know my Savior this day and every day.  Amen.

Lev. 7:11-15[1], Eating with God

11 “And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings that one may offer to the Lord. 12 If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the thanksgiving sacrifice unleavened loaves mixed with oil, unleavened wafers smeared with oil, and loaves of fine flour well mixed with oil. 13 With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving he shall bring his offering with loaves of leavened bread. 14 And from it he shall offer one loaf from each offering, as a gift to the Lord. It shall belong to the priest who throws the blood of the peace offerings.

 In all the sacrifices, except the whole burnt offering, there were pieces of the sacrificed animal excluded from the fire.  Those pieces, or grain, were reserved for the priests.  The ritual system of sacrifice in Israel helped to maintain the livelihood of the priest.  Furthermore, there was no part of the sacrificial system that allowed the worshiper to eat of the “holy things” of sacrifice, except for this one. 

The word describing this sacrifice is shalom, the Hebrew word for peace.  This word carries a connotation of peace in every aspect of the word.  Total well-being, prosperity in a metaphysical sense, but not excluding physical prosperity (though not always monetary or wealth).  The biblical idea of peace is that it only comes from God, especially known in God’s communion with his people corporately. 

1 John 1:1-4 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

John writes of joy here based on fellowship with each other and God.  Joy that comes from knowing the savior, our Lord Jesus, as he revealed himself in our human frailty yet still in his majestic divinity!  This is the joy and peace of believing Paul mentions in the benediction of Romans 15:13!  “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

The Peace Offering emphasizes that to have fellowship with God, atonement for sin must be made.  Blood must be shed.   The blood will be accepted only when it is offered with the right heart ( 3:1, “without blemish”), by the right method (by the priest, according to God’s prescription), according to God’s grace (all sacrifices  in the OT point back to God’s sacrifice in the garden).  

In this sacrifice, we see an obvious resemblance to the Lord’s Supper, where God feeds us from the sacrifice itself.  God not only offers the perfect sacrifice, the only sacrifice, that can atone and propitiate for our sins, but then he gives us the spiritual nourishment we so desperately need for life in his presence. 

The OT sacrament pointed forward to Jesus death in the death of the animal, but it also pointed forward to the gift of Jesus’ continued sustenance for believers.  Especially in the sacrament, but more generally in all of life.   And on top of that it, eating in the presence of God made Dt. 8:3, “man does not live by bread alone”, a sacramental reality.  Not because they were eating meat as well as bread, but because God was nourishing his people spiritually through physical means.

Our sacrifice ascended to heaven, and there he remains until his return.   But that doesn’t mean we are starved until then.  No, rather, it means that we are being fed with the bread of heaven, like Israel in the wilderness.  And even now that we find ourselves in a time we are not able to partake of the Lord’s Supper, we are fed with the presence of our Lord.  

Seek his presence through the reading of his word, in private and in families or with friends.  Through our daily habit of praying.  Dear family, as we look forward to the time when we can gather as a body again and worship our Lord together, let us anticipate with eager hearts that are made hungrier through the continual, daily feeding we receive in God’s word.

All the habits of grace are possible and effective because our Lord Jesus is our sacrifice and he is also our Lord!  All  we receive, we receive in him, and all the spiritual benefits of heaven are just him delivered to our souls.  The puritan Richard Sibbes pointed out, “The special graces and favours of God are compared to a feast made up of the best things, full of all varieties and excellencies, and the chief dish that is all in all, is Christ, and all the gracious benefits we by promise can in any wise expect from him. All other favours and blessings, whatsoever they are, are but Christ dished out, as I may speak, in several offices and attributes. He is the original of comfort, the principle of grace and holiness. All is included in Christ. Ask of him and ye shall obtain, even the forgiveness of your sins, peace of conscience, and communion of saints.”[2]

May the God of all comfort give you comfort and peace as you share in the sufferings of Christ.

In Jesus’ love,

Pastor Matt

[1] Lev. 3 and 7:11-18 deal with the whole ritual known as the peace offering.  All of the sacrifices are dealt with twice in Leviticus, it’s commonly thought that the first record in chapter 1-6 deal with the worshipper’s part and the second occurrence is about the priest’s duties.

[2] Sibbes, R. (1862). The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes. (A. B. Grosart, Ed.) (Vol. 2, p. 446). Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet And Co.; W. Robertson.

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