Exploring Covenant and Kingdom

Discovering what relationship and responsibility are all about

Tag: Bible

Too Busy

busy-full-calendar

“I don’t have time for that”.  “Let me check my schedule to see where I can squeeze you in”.  “I’m so tired, I can’t do another thing”.  “Nope.  Sorry.  I am way too busy to be able to do that”.  Perhaps you’ve said some of those things.  A friend of mine literally said this to me yesterday: “I’d love to do that but I’m too busy.  I can’t fit another thing on my plate.”  Perhaps you wrestle with guilt about having to say no to certain things.  How did we get to this point?  Busyness is an epidemic in the Western World.  The problem is that we think that with all the societal technological time saving advances we’re saving time, but the reality is we’re busier than ever because with the “extra time” we keep adding more things to our plate!

Last Sunday we looked at Acts 6:1-7.  Here we see the apostles dealing with a time management problem that has arisen.  Before when the church was 120 people, or even 3000 people after Pentecost, they seemed to have the capacity of doing everything themselves.  But as the church had continued to multiply explosively and reached probably somewhere in excess of 10,000 people (Acts 4:4 counts 5,000 MEN), they had come to the crisis point where it became obvious that they couldn’t provide leadership over all aspects of ministry anymore.  The problem that had arisen pertained to daily food distribution to widows (Acts 6:1).  How do the apostles respond?  They welcome the involvement of more leaders to take over that aspect of ministry.  Doing this will permit them to “spend [their] time teaching the word of God”(v.2).  They repeat it again, that the development of leadership is crucial so that “we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word”(v.4).

What can we learn from their example?  The first application I want to raise pertains to every follower of Jesus, not just those in leadership.  It is too easy to allow the tyranny of the urgent to squeeze out time in the Word and prayer.  Like breathing to the physical body so is prayer to the spirit.  It is essential.  Reading Scripture regularly to allow God to speak to us afresh and apply his truth to our situations is also essential.  The sooner we learn those truths, the sooner our lives will be grow in Kingdom fruitfulness.  From a human perspective spiritual disciplines can seem mundane and irrelevant.  But the supernatural mystery is that as we step into them we experience joy and power and wisdom we never dreamed possible.

 

The second application I want to make applies to leadership, but also in another sense to all followers of Jesus as we believe everybody has a ministry and is called to exercise the faith and gifts that God has given them.  It takes time to know with reasonable assurance what our gifts and calling are, but when we do know I believe that God expects us to build our ministry schedule around them.  Just as the apostles realized they had to set aside the good for the best, so we too need to be vigilante and ruthless to manage or time and calendars.  May the Lord grant that we be known as focused instead of busy.

 

You May Be The Answer To Your Own Prayers!

answered prayers

Prayer.  One of the grand mysteries of life.  If you have ever prayed to God and seen him answer a prayer you know what I am talking about.  Just stop and think about that.  We, who are teeny tiny created specks in an unfathomably huge and expanding universe, are able to communicate with and relate to the King of that Universe!  Ridiculous!  And yet that is truth.

On Sunday mornings in July we are working our way through the book of Ruth.  At present we are 3/4 of the way through.  We are at the point where we can look back and see how things have developed and how plot lines relate to each other in bringing resolution to the grand conflict of the story.

One grand theme is Naomi’s emptiness and how God is going to fill her up (Ruth 1:21- “I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty”).  Naomi tries to convince her daughters-in-law to return home and start over with new husbands so that they don’t experience the same emptiness of life that she is being beaten with.  She expresses that remarrying is the best route forward and that God will do this for them (Ruth 1:9-“May the Lord bless you with the security of another marriage.”).

Ruth was the only daughter-in-law who clung (1:14) to Naomi and accompanied her home to Bethlehem.  In chapter 2 God provided for the women by leading Ruth to the glean in the fields of a relative of Naomi’s, Boaz.  Boaz was generous in taking extra measures to provide abundantly for the women.  Fast forward to chapter 3.  Here we see that Naomi seizes upon a providentially given opportunity.  Naomi recognizes that the harvest is ending and the possibility of capitalizing on Boaz’s favour is fast disappearing. Her prayer in chapter 1 was that God would bless Ruth with the security of another marriage.  At that point her perspective was that God would accomplish this.  Now she sees that Boaz seems to be a good candidate.  And tonight he’ll be winnowing barley on the threshing floor, and sleeping out there alone.  In this scenario, God has provided the possibility for Naomi’s prayer to be answered; a marriage proposal can be made.  But stop and think about these circumstances.  Naomi wasn’t waiting for a mate to find Ruth; She took the initiative.

Does this have any spiritual application for our lives?  I think it does.  Naomi “models one way in which divine and human actions work together: believers are not to wait passively for events to happen; rather, they must seize the initiative when an opportunity presents itself”.  This is the tension of the life of faith.  We are instructed to wait upon the Lord.  But I don’t think that means waiting idly by for something to happen.  Waiting upon the Lord means having an internal posture of faith and trusting God and trying to listen and discern where he might be at work.  This means that we understand that sometimes God presents the opportunity but we must step out in obedience or faith to partner with him in being the answer to our own prayers.  In the book of Ruth we see that God acts IN Naomi’s actions.

Prayer is a mystery.  There is no formula for us to manipulate.  Sometimes prayer moves God.  Often it changes our hearts and minds without any change to the outward circumstance, but that makes all the difference.  Always prayer attunes our hearts and minds to God’s.  And this means that sometimes we will be able to see where God is moving and working and calling us to join him to be the answer to our own prayers.

By The Book

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“You just HAVE to read this book!  It’s life-changing”!  I’m sure you’ve had that experience of somebody trying to hand you a book and insisting you must read it.  What were they excited about?  The newest parenting theory?  Financial advice?  The latest dietary trend?  ‘Truth’ on those matters seems to change frequently.  And opposing viewpoints are each held up with the claim of truth.  It’s enough just to walk away with your hands in the air.  Or to surrender in dismay and choose to hold a neutral or apathetic position instead.  Who’s right and who’s wrong?  Maybe you can identify with these thoughts: “I’d rather not make that call!  Unless I run into trouble, I don’t have to worry about that.  I’m managing just fine.”

I had a conversation on faith with somebody the other week, and that was basically their posture.  It was expressed in a relativistic stance: “I’m for good.  So whatever works for you.  Just don’t push it on me.”  The problem with that thinking is that not all things can be equally true!  And the problem with deciding not to evaluate a position and find firm footing in advance is that when you get into trouble you don’t have the time to do digging and vetting of information; you’ll end up having to put complete trust in somebody’s recommendation that “worked for them”.

So is there a better source for truth than human opinion?  Yes!  A couple Sundays ago we finished our sermon series titled FIRM FOUNDATION; five fingers, five non-negotiable theological truths for easy memory that will make for secure footing in our ever changing world.  Our 5th non-negotiable belief is in the ‘supremacy of scripture’.  We believe that the Bible is God’s Word.  It is authoritative.  God is the author of the Bible, and as such is the ultimate source of truth for our lives.  It can be trusted, unlike fallible human opinion.

What impact should belief in the supremacy of Scripture have upon our lives?  Confessing the Bible as authoritative should result in a life shaped by the Bible.  Do you have a Jesus shaped life?  Or do you have a life that looks an awful like the world?  Eugene Petersen’s rendering of the famous conformity passage Romans 12:2 says: “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”  Now that’s a great vision for a life: Well-formed maturity!

Adherence to the Bible as our rule of faith should lead to a lifestyle of seeking to grow in knowledge of what the Bible says, and to a lifestyle of obedience to what it says!  There are many paths to growing closer to God (i.e. Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas), but there is only one path to God.  Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”(John 14:6).  If Jesus is the only way to God, we better pay attention and learn from him.  Our trusted source of information about Jesus is his disciples who were eye-witnesses (i.e. 1 John 1:1-3; 2 Peter 1:16-21).  As we read about the life and teachings of the Word became flesh (John 1:14), the perfect one so full of grace, truth, love, humility, and power, we can’t help but be drawn to him.  And the invitation of the Risen One is to come and trust in him and develop a personal relationship with him.  And with that grand invitation to relationship he also offers us a beautiful challenge to change.  If we love him we will obey his commands (John 14:15,23).  If we believe in the supremacy of Scripture this challenge will be a easier to embrace, for we know the Creator of life holds the design and what he calls us to is for our own good. 

I leave you with the benediction of 2 Peter 3:18, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”   

 

 

Lessons from Samson

samson

The children’s version of the life of Samson that we teach is quite sanitized, and rightfully so.  But the focus tends to be on the man, on Samson, and his strength.  Yes, God provided it, but we tend to present that Samson was a good faithful man until he gets tricked by Delilah.  Those of us who follow the Moravian text reading plan have just finished reading through the book of Judges.  The life of Samson, found in Judges 13-16, is presented in a much more negative light than the one we teach to our kids!

When I look at the life of Samson the one word that i’d use to summarize his life is IDENTITY.  We see Samson has  been given an identity from before birth: “You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines”(13:5).  (You can read about the full identity of a Nazirite by looking at Numbers 6)  You and I, we have been given an identity from before birth as well!  Paul writes in Ephesians 1:4-5 that, “he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will”.  The troublesome life that Samson led was due to the fact that he didn’t live out of his God-given identity. The same will be true for you and me; the degree to which we live as children of God will determine the environment, stability, and consequences we experience.

Now let’s jump to the end of Samson’s life.  Samson in his arrogance, pride, and unclear thinking blinded by lust, reveals his secret to Delilah who betrays Samson for money.  Samson is captured, blinded, and humiliated.  Samson’s last words tell us that he remembers his identity: “Then Samson prayed to the Lord,“Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more…”” (Judges 16:28).  God answers Samson’s prayer and gives him strength once again to lay a final blow to the Philistines.  Samson’s final words and encounter with God can be of great encouragement to us.  Sometimes we fail.  Perhaps we know people who have forgotten their identity and no longer follow the Lord.  The good news is that neither our repentance, nor any sustained faithfulness we have, earn us merit in the eyes of God.  Our covenant with him is based solely on the grace of God found in the cross of Christ.  And so the Father welcomes the prodigal son home.  Samson’s prayer is not theologically sound in the fact that God doesn’t forget us.  It is rather that Samson remembers his identity in God and comes back to God.  In the same way, we can find comfort in the amazing grace of our Heavenly Father who always receives back our contrite hearts.  God will not forget you.  And so the task for us disciples of Christ is to build into our lives rhythms that remind is of our identity.  If we can do that, we will avoid the unnecessary pain and heartbreak that a Samson life leads to.  Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love for you endures forever!  

    

Remembering Who We Are

Pooh identity

Sometimes we need help from an outside voice to remind us who we are.  If it is true that IDENTITY isn’t created but received (from others), then we need to constantly hear reminders from that voice that we’ve chosen to receive our IDENTITY from.  For the Christian we need frequent reminders that we are children of God, and a reminder of what living out of that IDENTITY looks like.

As I reflect on our Sunday morning gatherings this summer month of August, it seems to me that God has been speaking to us about IDENTITY.  We began the month with students from Teen Challenge sharing their testimonies of how God has rescued them, is delivering them from addiction, and how he is giving them hope for a new future.  In my estimation, a great reason for their restoration is their immersion in God’s Word and presence.  As they learn who God says they are, and the plans that He has for them, they are able to have their minds renewed and to find fulfillment in him instead of in addiction.  I know one grad well in particular,  and I know the reason that he is experiencing a fruitful and joyful life is because he has continued in healthy rhythms of God’s word and gathering with God’s people so as to often be reminded of his IDENTITY in Christ.

The next week I preached on Jesus’ call to “Come, follow me”.  This same invitation that Jesus extended to his potential disciples God extends to each and every one of us today.  To follow him is not simply to be a disconnected fan from a distance, but rather to enter into a intimate relationship with Jesus that requires our all.  It’s hard to avoid this call to full-life surrender when Jesus says, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).  When we die to self we are giving up our old identity, and choosing to receive a new identity as a child of God.  This new identity calls us to a whole new life orientation around the Kingdom of God.  

  Then this past Sunday I helped us consider what Gal.2:20 means: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me”.  Is this just something that is playing out at a positional level in the spiritual realm?  Or do we bring that to bear on how we actually live life day in and day out?  If Christ lives in you and you die to self, then it should be possible that you can be mistaken for Jesus (in a perfect world if those you encountered knew enough about the works, ways, and words of Jesus); well, you get the idea 🙂 .

Why is IDENTITY important?  Because Kingdom responsibility and representation flow directly out of IDENTITY.  You cannot represent the Kingdom if you are not authorized to by the King.  As well, you will not receive power or be able to produce fruit (fruit that will last, as per John 15:16) if you don’t possess a Family of God IDENTITY.  And so it is fitting that we have been reminded throughout August of our identity, so that we can be primed to bear fruit in power as we enter into the autumn season.  Are you ready to produce?           

 

The End But Not THE End.

this-is-not-the-end

Stay tuned, there’s more to come!  When you attend a movie at the theatre, sometimes you are treated to some extras after the end credits roll.  Sometimes it’s outtakes, sometimes it’s a sneak peek teaser to a sequel.  The end of the movie was not completely The End, was it?  Have you ever missed out on that?  There was more to come, but you didn’t know it, and you left, only to hear from others who attended the movie that there was more!  Or do you always follow the cues of the crowd of when to leave, or are you tuned into the clue the theatre provides by not bringing up the house lights even though the end credits are rolling?

We have the privilege of living with hindsight.  We know that the 400 years of silence that followed Malachi was in fact NOT the end.  But it sure must have felt like it to the generations that lived in that inter-testamental period, not having a prophet speak to them as they did to their forefathers.  For the month of July we took time to study the book and message of Malachi in our Sunday services.  Malachi is the final book of the Old Covenant; the agreement God made at Mount Sinai with Israel that was a framework for humanity to relate to our holy, Almighty God.

The Jews would have expected the Messiah to fit into their Old Covenant understanding, because that was all they knew!  But God had a surprise up his sleeve.  The Messiah would not fit with most of their expectations, and in fact would bring an end to the Old Covenant and inaugurate a New Covenant.  Although some believe that God is relating to two different groups of people through concurrent covenants, the New Testament clearly indicates that the old covenant is obsolete and God is only relating to humanity through Jesus (Heb.8:13).

So how do we understand and interpret the message of this book (Malachi) that was the end of the old covenant communication, but not the end of God relating to humanity?  We do it most justice if we look at it through a big picture lens.  The message under the microscope is one of failing, calling to repentance, judgement, and the promise of future hope.  The people had only been out of exile for less than 100 years and they were already being charged corporately with the same sins and attitudes that brought the judgment of exile upon their ancestors!  This book could therefore be seen as God reacting to the people.  But when we understand the big picture we understand that yes, God was taking seriously those particular people in time and space with whom He was in covenant relationship with, however, God was continuing to work out his grand rescue plan that was nearly climax.  The Old Covenant can’t be seen as God’s grand plan when from their inception God knew they would fail (see Deut.  31:16-18).  As the book of Hebrews makes clear as well, it was a temporary measure until the fullness of time (Gal.4:4-5).  God was sovereignly working out history, raising up and tearing down nations, until the lay of the land was prepared and perfect for the coming of the Messiah.  The first century environment was the perfect recipe for the explosion of the gospel due to the infrastructure the Romans built, and the common language the Greek Empire had established prior to the Romans.  And the oppressive conditions of the 1st century primed people’s hearts to receive the entrance of the Kingdom of God in Jesus.

In Malachi’s ministry, the universal time was getting closer to the planned Messiah’s due date.  And so to end the old covenant we have the wonderful promise of a second Elijah who was going to be sent to prepare the way.  In Matthew 17:12-13 Jesus identifies that John the Baptist was the fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy: “12 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.”  The people were expectantly awaiting Elijah.  He had now come.  Now, the Messiah was speaking to them.

What is some personal application we can make from all this?  Sometimes we have ends in our lives, but we can have the assurance of hope and faith that those truly aren’t The End. God is our hope, in whom we can take refuge and find hope to continue (Psalm 62:5).  Another application is re-affirming that we desperately need God’s Word to inform and interpret our lives for us.  If we rely on finite human wisdom, and our eyes and perceptions of what is going on, we will be wrong.  So what is going on in your life, and how are you allowing Scripture to inform that?    

 

But Isn’t Singing Worship?

noworshipchristmas

We live in a land of capitalism, and the Christian community thoroughly participates in it.  The Christian consumer industry is alive and well.  I’m not against all that, but I do want to point out that there are probably unintended consequences that have developed;  One of those being the subtle equating of worship and music.  The modern worship movement has enabled many Christians to make a career out of singing Jesus songs.  People pay to experience and be led in worship by celebrity worship leaders (Case in point, as i write this I am hearing a radio promotion for an event called ‘Worship Night in America’).  I can appreciate a great concert and gathering with large crowds to lift my voice in praise to God. But is there harm done in all this?  I believe so.  I see it as perpetuating a definition of worship as exclusively singing.  The ripples of that places singing as the primary means of worship in the life of the believer, and places an unhealthy overemphasis on the importance of public space gathering (i.e. Sunday morning church service) as the ultimate Christian duty and experience.

As we concluded our preaching series on Hebrews this past Sunday, we looked at chapter 13.  Hebrews 13:15-16 says, “Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. 16 And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God”(NLT).  The writer describes the sacrifices we bring to God as twofold-confessing his name with our lips, and the acts of our hands.  I love the way Eugene Petersen paraphrases it in the message: “God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship-a different kind of “sacrifice”-that take place in the kitchen and workplace and on the streets”.  This is a needed corrective for many of us.  I believe we erroneously view worship through the lens of the old covenant instead of the new covenant.  There is still a place for music and singing as worship.  In fact, I think it is a discipline neglected by many in their daily lives.  There is great power and freedom that can be unleashed in our lives by including worship music in our daily rhythm.  But my point today is that we need to broaden our understanding of worship.  

In the new covenant music is only one form of worship and sacrifice that we can bring before the Father.  We need to be more intentional about offering our bodies as living sacrifices to God (Romans 12:1).  What implications does this have for church leadership?  It means we need to give consideration to what the other six days of the week include in the lives of our flock, and not measure their spirituality primarily by Sunday attendance.  This is a great paradigm shift, but I believe that in light of Hebrews 13, it is the right one.  This is a great invitation from our Heavenly Father; we can bring sacrifices before Him at any time and in any place!  

And so, how’s your worship of the Father this week?  May you embrace the greater opportunity the new covenant provides for you to worship God!        

SIGNS FROM GOD

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Do you believe God wants to speak to you and partner with you to accomplish his purposes?  The Bible would argue that you should hold such a worldview!  On Sunday in our sermon series on Hebrews we covered chapter 11, probably the most well known chapter of the book; a.k.a. the Hall of Faith/Fame.  In it the author gives numerous examples of what a life of faith looks like, in order to encourage the original readers to have the same quality of faith that will allow them to persevere in their trials.

In addition to seeing the great heroes of the Old Testament that we would expect to see there, some uncommon people make the list too.  Moses’ parents make the Hall of Faith! Hebrews 11:23 says, “By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict”.  What the NIV translates as “no ordinary child”, many other versions (i.e.ESV) translate as “that the child was beautiful”.  This is noteworthy.  Whereas the NIV goes for the spirit of the law, others go for a more literal sense which sometimes can aid us in understanding more.  In this case, the NIV leaves us with a vague idea of why Moses’ parents knew he was special.  The other translations hint at the fact that it was something about his physical appearance that tipped his parents off.  This is consistent with the Greek translation of Exodus 2:2 which refers to extraordinary beauty.  Philo and Josephus ( 1st century Jewish philosophers and historians) both refer to this same aspect of Moses’ appearance and say that it was taken as a visible sign from God that he had great plans for Moses.  In regards to English translations of Ex.2:2 we have words that vary from “saw that he was a special baby”(NLT) to “saw that he was a fine child”(ESV) to “saw that he was beautiful”(NASB).  So we see that Moses’ parents therefore responded in faith to what God had shown them, rather than just hiding Moses in hopes that things would work out in the end.

Truly fascinating, if you ask me.  Now let’s zoom back out and think about the chapter as a whole.  I’ll re-ask the opening questions.  Do you believe God wants to speak to you and partner with you to accomplish his purposes?  I hope you answer that yes.  Because that is where the promised abundant life lies for us.  God can still speak through signs.  But on this side of Hebrews 11 we have the Holy Spirit that indwells us!  This is a far better thing than looking to the skies for signs!  We can learn to tune into the Spirit’s voice.  We can be certain of what he says.  As Paul says in Galatians, we are to keep in step with the Spirit.  This is a thing!  We can be conscious of His presence with us every day.  We can be led by Him.  He wants to partner with you.  This week!  There is no greater invitation we can ever receive than the one we have received from the King of the Universe to use us as his representatives!  Respond to Him and walk by faith.

 

Forgiven-Forever!

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When I was a child, I had bad theology; as a result, I lived at times with unfounded fears.  I don’t recall where the false understanding originated, but I simply remember that “it was”.  For a period of time I thought that if I had an unconfessed sin and I died, I would go to hell.  As a result multiple times a day I prayed prayers of repentance asking for forgiveness.  Now I know I’m not the only one who has at times believed that!  But that’s just not what Scripture teaches.  The memory of my childhood torment came flooding back on Sunday morning while I was sitting in our church service, listening to a sermon on Hebrews 10:1-14.

Hebrews 10:14- For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

That verse (and others within the first 14 verses of Hebrews 10) reminded me of the peace and security that a child of God can live with.  The work of Christ is sufficient.  The work of Christ is thorough.  Sin can’t keep you out of heaven.  That’s good news!  It doesn’t mean that sin is harmless.  It doesn’t mean that with can sin with license and have a clear conscience.  But that is for another post!

With Christ’s death on the cross, he didn’t make us perfect until the next time we sin.  He doesn’t therefore need to die again for my sins, as the Levitical high priest had to offer sacrifices again and again for each new sin.  It says that his one sacrifice has made us perfect FOREVER!  That’s a pretty long time 🙂 .  As long as we are united with Christ, the Father remembers our sin no more.  The writer of Hebrews goes on to quote Jeremiah in v.17: “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”  The work of Christ on our behalf is a truly remarkable thing.  It achieves for us unlimited access to God.  It provides for us a secure identity.  Just as we don’t disown our children and they don’t cease to be our children when they fail, so we are members of God’s household, and it takes more than unconfessed sin to lose our spot.

I encourage you to take these wonderful truths and use them as a springboard into worship.  May your hearts and minds be filled with thanksgiving to your Heavenly Father.  May your secure identity as a beloved child of the King move you to live a life of obedience because that is the most natural expression of who you are!

The Back Door

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Loopholes.  They allow people to circumvent custom and procedure.  For the good, or the bad.  You can get out of a traffic violation ticket that you are guilty of if the officer misspelled your name or wrote down the wrong home address on your ticket.  We preached through Hebrews chapter 7 this past Sunday.  In it, we can see how God creatively provided a “back door” through which Christ qualifies as high priest!

The old covenant dictated that men only qualified for the priesthood if they were from the tribe of Levi (Heb.7:5; Num.18:1-7).  But in Hebrews, the writer is proclaiming that Jesus, who doesn’t qualify (Heb. 7:13-14), is now our great high priest!  His whole argument hinges on this but to his Jewish Christian audience the credentials of Jesus posed a massive theological problem.  So how does the author of Hebrews back up his argument and solve this conundrum?  God gives him the wisdom to see and understand the unseen backdoor that God created thousands of years before!

The backdoor’s name was Melchizedek; An obscure, mysterious figure who makes the briefest of appearances in Genesis 14.  The first 10 verses of Hebrews 7 the author spent building a case for the fact that Melchizedek was in fact a legitimate non-Levite high priest, as affirmed by their patriarch Abraham’s actions!  Having proven the superiority of Melchizedek to Abraham, the writer shifts next to focus on the superiority of one “like Melchizedek” (7:11-28).  He uses the only other reference to Melchizedek in the Old  Testament (Psalm 110:4) to show that Jesus’ priesthood is “after the order of Melchizedek”, and lasts “forever”.

All in a day’s work for God Almighty to work outside the box!  It was God who initiated the first covenant, but only intended it to be a temporary provision.  The permanent forever covenant was going to be initiated by the prophesied Messiah.  But the Jewish nation wasn’t prepared for this.  I think they were more attached to the covenant than the covenant partner!  What can we learn from this?  That we don’t see the whole picture.  That God can work in ways we don’t expect.  That God may overturn the apple cart because it was only a temporary provision for us.  Now I’m not talking about the means of salvation and relating to God.  That is set in stone forever now!  However, it could be in any other aspect of life.  Our methodologies.  Our life situation.  We must live in a humble posture before God.  He may surprise us and “change things up”.  The way to be prepared to respond to him is to be growing in our relationship with him, so that we can hear him when he speaks to us.  If we cling to the one who never changes and hold loosely to everything else, then we will be in the perfect place and posture!