Submitted by: David Zimmerman
Pastor of Faith Baptist Church, Maricopa, AZ
November , 2022
Lesson One: A Cover for the Shame of Sin
Text: Romans 5:1-11 (SERIES INTRO) ; Genesis 3:1-21 (LESSON)
Date: January 15, 2017
INTRODUCTION TO THE SERIES
In Romans 5:11, we read:
Romans 5:11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
The word atonement means a setting at one. We who were guilty of sin (Romans 5:12) were under the sentence of death. Sin and death reigned over us. We were not at one with God, because every sin was an offense against God. Enter Jesus Christ. He died for us (Romans 5:12). His one sacrifice for sin made it possible for us to be at one with God again. We have been justified by His blood (Romans 5:9) and saved from [God’s] wrath. We are no longer seen as enemies of God, but have been reconciled to God. We have been set at one with God.
Atonement is AT-ONE-MENT. The cost of this AT-ONE-MENT was the blood of Jesus Christ, and this is the central theme of the Bible, a scarlet thread that runs from Genesis to Revelation.
Have you ever pulled on a piece of thread, in a tie or a suit, and instead of pulling loose, it begins to unravel? The more you pull on it, the more it unravels, because the thread runs through the garment.
Atonement is like that. We grab hold of the thread in Genesis, and when we will pull on it, we see that this thread is woven through every book in the Bible. We follow it all the way to Calvary, where the blood of Christ is shed for our sins. One result is that we rejoice in God for providing the atonement. Without the atonement, there would be no forgiveness for sin, no righteousness in Jesus, and no victory in life. The atonement is THAT important.
In this series, we are going to trace this Scarlet Thread of atonement through the Bible, picking it up in various stories and texts, so that we might better understand what God has done for us through the blood of Jesus and the provision it makes for us to experience lives of victory in Jesus.
INTRODUCTION TO THE LESSON
Genesis one and two describe how God created the human race, forming Adam of the dust of the ground, and fashioning a wife for him from a rib taken from his side. From the first moment of their creation, Adam and Eve walked in fellowship with God. They had a relationship with God. God talked to them and (if we can assume that verse 8 describes a regular habit of God) He walked with them in the Garden. Adam and Eve were at one with God. There were no disagreements, no offenses, no guilt, and no shame. Adam and Eve lived in perfect fellowship with God, and with one another.
Can you imagine such a life? It is the kind of existence we were created to enjoy … forever.
Enter the serpent, the embodiment of Satan. In rapid succession, we read of the temptation of Adam and Eve, their fall, the defeat it brought into their lives, and the separation that it caused to occur between them and God. Against this backdrop of sin and separation, God gives us our first taste of our need of Christ’s atonement, and our first glimpse of The Scarlet Thread that we will trace through the Bible.
I. The Conquest of Satan (Genesis 3:1-6)
A. The serpent is introduced to us as a deceiver – more subtil than any beast of the field
1. Though he is the King of Darkness, he passes himself off as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14)
2. In our daily battles, the greatest threat we face are the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:10-11)
B. He tempts Eve to stand in judgment of what God has said.
1. Satan expresses surprise, or perhaps even offense, that God has said that Adam and Eve may NOT eat of every tree. (In other words, one is forbidden them, and the devil wants Eve to know that he is shocked!)
2. This question tempts Eve to question the wisdom and goodness of God.
C. He denies that disobeying God would bring judgment, but rather that it would yield enlightenment.
1. The devil wants people to believe that sin and rebellion against God has no divine or eternal consequences; you are free to live as you please.
2. The devil wants people to believe that they can decide for themselves what is good and what is evil; no one else has the right to decide that for them.
D. He succeeds in enticing Eve to consider that for all the good God had done for them, He reserved the best for Himself.
1. Instead of trusting in the goodness of her Creator, Eve chose independence, the freedom to make up her own mind concerning good and evil.
2. Satan succeeded in setting up God as a rival for her affections, if not an outright enemy of her good.
Convinced that God was withholding something good from them, first Eve, then Adam, ate of the fruit. Although they did not immediately realize it, Satan had won, and they were defeated.
II. The Initial Consequences of Man’s Defeat (Genesis 3:7-13)
A. They felt shame: they had something to hide (v. 7-8)
1. Instead of the promised freedom, Adam and Eve felt like failures.
2. Their response was to try to cover the guilt they felt with fig leaves.
D.A. Carson – “You cannot hide moral shame with fig leaves… You cannot undo the loss of innocence.”
QUESTION: Was it right for Adam and Eve to feel ashamed?
B. They were no longer at one with God.
1. The closeness they had enjoyed with God was gone for the remainder of their earthly existence.
2. A relationship once marked by openness is now marred by questions (vs 9-13).
a. Questions that forced them to admit, deny, or try to justify what they had done.
b. Questions that only increased their sense of shame and intensified the feeling of having been cut-off from God.
C. They were no longer at one with each other!
Adam justifies himself by blaming Eve and Eve justifies herself by blaming the serpent. Each tries to pin their sin on someone else.
Adam: “Don’t blame me! It’s her fault!” (Looks at Eve likes she’s diseased!)
Eve (With a “How dare you” look on her face): “It’s not my fault. It’s that slimy creature’s fault!”
TRANSITION: In a matter of minutes, a creation that God had deemed very good turned very, very ugly. Adam and Eve’s sins had brought shame, blame, and broken relationships.
III. The Curses of Living in a Fallen World (Genesis 3:14-19)
In response to Adam and Eve’s sin, God pronounces three curses upon His creation.
A. Mankind and Satan would be perpetually at war (v. 15).
1 .Satan slithers along the pathways of humanity, striking at our feet, bruising our heels – causing us to limp through this world as victims of his venomous bite, ultimately to die of the poison of sin.
2. This deadly reign of Satan would continue until One was born who would feel the bite of Satan in His heel, but with His foot deliver a crushing, deadly blow to Satan’s head.
NOTE: That is the victory that makes possible ALL our victories in Christ!
B. Motherhood and marriage would be marred by the sorrows and selfishness of sin.
1. Having and raising children would be a mixture of joy and sorrow.
2. Husbands and wives would no longer naturally live together with oneness of heart and mind; each would sinfully want to impose his or will on the other.
TRANSITION: The seeds of rebellion sown in the garden would bear the fruit of corruption for generations to come. This is the world we live in … apart from Jesus.
C. Because Adam listened to his wife rather than his Creator, the world he lived in would no longer willingly yield its fruit.
IV. The Covering God Provided (3:21)
A. For Adam and Eve to be clothed with coats of skins, an animal had to be sacrificed.
1. Adam and Eve needed two coverings: one for their nakedness and one for their shame.
That is why their fig leaf loin cloths were so inadequate; they only addressed one part of the problem.
2. The coats of skins provided both, one through the hides of the animals, and the other through their blood.
This is the first blood shed in sacrifice of a virtual river of blood that flows all the way to the foot of the cross. What God did in the Garden was a foreshadowing of what He would do at Golgotha, when the Lamb of God would shed His blood to atone for our sins.
B. Atonement reminds us that our first and greatest need is to be set at one with God again.
1. Adam and Eve had tried to provide a human solution to the shame they felt, and it could not work. The questions God asked exposed the futility of their own efforts.
2. Atonement means that we have a Heavenly solution to the shame we feel; with the result that we joy in God because our sin, and its shame, have been covered by Jesus.
We can be more than conquerors through Him who loved us because the shame that so often cripples us has been covered by the atoning blood of Jesus. We don’t have to live as victims of the fall, but as victors of the Cross. We don’t have to hide from God; we have access to our Heavenly Father. We must not allow shameful past sins to keep us from living confidently as a child of God today.
Lesson Two: Even Good Sinners need a Savior
Text: Genesis 22:1-14
Date: January 22, 2016
The sin of Adam and Eve messed up everything. Man’s relationship with God, the serpent and each other were horribly altered for the worse. Childbirth, home, family, work all fell under the curse of sin. Instead of the better world that the serpent had promised, their sin deprived them of much of the good of God’s original creation.
By the time we arrive at Genesis 22, two-thousand years of human history had passed. In those two millennia, sins multiplied. Violence and corruption spread everywhere. In Genesis 6, God describes the good world He had created in these terms: the wickedness of man was great in the earth (v. 5)and the earth was filled with violence (v. 11).
God responded to these conditions by washing away the corruption of the human race with a flood. The world was given a fresh start with four families: Noah, his sons, and their wives. They were families of faith. They had believed God’s warning concerning the flood and built the ark. They came forth from the ark with the opportunity to build a better world.
It didn’t turn out like we might hope. Noah got drunk. His son Ham did something perverse enough to cause Noah to curse him. Armed with the power of government, the descendants of Noah eventually tried to establish the first one world government under a man named Nimrod. Together, they made their first attempt at establishing a one world religion at place called Babel. Refusing to allow man to continue in a direction that would cost him his soul, God came down in judgment, confusing the languages of man and scattering the human race over the face of the earth.
This period of human history from the Fall to Babel illustrates an important truth: judgment isn’t the answer to the problem of sin. Judgments can’t “fix” what was broken in man at the Fall. Mankind can’t be reformed; it must be rescued. Fallen men need a Savior.
With this fact established for the sake of a fallen world, God implemented phase two of His plan of redemption. Step One of this plan centered on a man named Abram (Abraham). In this lesson, we will watch how God’s plan unfolds, continuing the Scarlet Thread of Atonement that runs through the Bible.
I. God’s Call of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3)
A. It was stunningly gracious (v.1)
1. It was initiated by God
The suddenness of the introduction, “Now the Lord had said…” tells us this encounter with God was totally unexpected. Out of the blue, like a lightening bolt coming out of the sky on a cloudless day, God kept an appointment with Abraham that only God had known about.
2. It defies explanation
a. Abraham’s country was Ur of the Chaldees (11:31), known for its worship of an idol, the Moon God.
As a result of God’s judgment at Babel, the human race abandoned its attempt to establish a one world religion but replaced it with a multiplicity of religions – all of them wrong!
b. Abraham himself was a practicing pagan.
Joshua 24:2 tells us Abraham came from a long line of families “that served other gods.”
c. Abraham was a sinner, a pagan, and an idolater when God stepped into his world, not to judge him, but to save him.
APPLICATION: We should easily be able to identify with this. In our lostness, we weren’t looking for God, but there came a time when He stepped into our world and it was evident that He was looking for us! We praise Him for that, because we know it was totally an act of grace.
B. It was breathtakingly generous (v. 3)
NOTE: Everything God promised to do for Abraham was FAR MORE than Abraham, or this world, deserved.
1. He will give Abraham a land – a place in which to make a fresh start with God.
2. He will make of Abraham a great nation; his little family will be the “seed” from which multitudes of families would come forth.
3. He will make Abraham a channel of blessing to the whole world.
In seeking to save Abraham, God was planning to bless all the other families scattered across the globe, separated from God by their sin, through the “seed” of Abraham.
TRANSITION: John 3:16 states that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to save us. The first major step towards fulfillment of that plan was the call of Abraham.
II. God’s Patience with Abraham
One lesson we learn from the life of Abraham is that God doesn’t give up on His followers when they stumble. He patiently works through their missteps and their falls to move them forward on the path of faith. God had made great promises to Abraham, and for the next 25 years, God had to teach Abraham that His Word was His bond.
A. Abraham had to learn to BELIEVE what God said – Genesis 15:1-6
1. Abraham was struggling to hang on to his faith.
QUESTION: What was going on in Abraham’s life that caused this struggle?
a. God had promised to make of him a great nation, and Abraham and Sarah didn’t even have their first child!
b. He was growing in wealth, and unless something changed, it would be his servant, not a son, that inherited it all!
QUESTION: Can you see anything positive in Abraham’s complaint to God? (It shows that the promises of God matter to him. He wants to believe in them. He wants to see them fulfilled) Why is this important? (It reminds us that belief and unbelief are often intertwined in our hearts. “Lord, I believe! Help thou mine unbelief!”)
2. God patiently encouraged Abraham to believe Him (v. 4-6)
QUESTION: What two things does God do to strengthen Abraham’s faith?
a. God tells Abraham that he will be the father of his heir; he will not remain childless
b. God shows Abraham what He has already done (filled the sky with stars) as evidence of what He is going to do (fill Abraham’s future with “seed”).
3. Abraham responded with faith in the Lord.
B. Abraham had to learn to WAIT on God to do what He promised (Genesis 17:18-22; 21:1-8)
There are two parts to this chapter in Abraham’s life:
1. Genesis 17 highlights Abraham’s failure: believing time was not on his side, he tried to bring about God’s plan through his own effort.
a. It pleased Abraham, but it displeased God.
b. Abraham desperately wanted God to accept Ishmael into His plan, but God refused.
2. God’s faithfulness: Sarah conceived and she and Abraham had a son, just as God had promised.
a. God DID what He had promised to do.
b. Abraham responded to God’s faithfulness with obedience.
(1) In naming his son (compare to Genesis 17:19)
(2) In circumcising his son
NOTE: The lesson wasn’t wasted on Abraham! If God can be trusted to do what He says, we should not hesitate to do everything He tells us to do. The next chapter illustrates how deeply this realization influenced Abraham’s walk with God.
III. Abraham’s Mountain Top Experience (Genes 22:1-14)
A. The astonishing requirement of God (v. 1-2)
1. Abraham was instructed to sacrifice to God the son he had waited 25 years for God to give him.
2. What God asked not only seemed contrary to His promises to Abraham, but to His own nature: what kind of God requires a parent to kill his child?
NOTE: This was a common practice among pagans, but it flies in the face of everything we have come to believe about God thus far in Genesis. Yet, Abraham doesn’t falter in a single step in performing what God asked
B. The amazing obedience of Abraham.
1. Abraham’s obedience was immediate.
2. Abraham’s obedience was complete – all the way up to the point of preparing to plunge the knife into Isaac’s chest.
a. It is evident that Abraham had not expected this (v. 8); he believed God would provide a substitute for his son.
b. When it seemed to him that he didn’t have God figured out after all, he was still prepared to do that which made no sense to him … because he knew that somehow, someway, God would still do what He had promised to do.
c. That moment, with knife poised in the air, Abraham reaches the pinnacle of his journey of faith.
C. The atoning sacrifice provided by God
It is vital to note that, though God did not make Abraham go through with offering Isaac, God still required him to sacrifice the ram. That fact teaches us three crucial truths about our need for atonement.
Three Truths about our Need of Atonement
1. You can’t love God enough, obey God enough, or give God enough to atone for your own sins.
a. When God asked Abraham to do what pagan gods frequently asked their own followers to do, Abraham willingly obeyed.
b. If nothing else, Abraham proved he loved the true and living God as much as pagans loved their idols – and yet, even a love as great as that could not atone for Abraham’s sins.
2. We need an atonement only God can provide (A heavenly solution, not a human solution).
a. Whatever we offer to God will never be good enough; God must provide us with a Lamb – and, of course, He has!
b. That God has provided a Lamb for us (Jesus) means that we need it!
3. What God could not allow Abraham to do, God did: He offered His own son in payment for our sins.
One lesson we learn from the life of Abraham is that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves or reconnect to God. It does not matter how many good deeds we perform, how faithful we become, how many church services we attend or how much money we give. We cannot love God enough, serve God enough, give God enough, or obey God enough to bridge the chasm between us and God that sin caused. It does not matter how “good” a sinner a man makes of himself, there is only one way back to God, and that is through the blood of God’s Lamb.
As we continue to trace the Scarlet Thread through the Bible, we will come to discover that every thread of hope we have in Jesus – from eternal life to victorious life – is tied to the Scarlet Thread of the blood of Christ.
Lesson Three: There is Power in the Blood
Text: Exodus 12:1-30
Date: January 29, 2017
What does the word atonement mean? (AT-ONE-MENT. It is restoring to the relationship between God and man the oneness that was severed in the Garden of Eden by Adam and Eve’s sin.)
What lesson or principle do we learn about atonement in the Garden of Eden? (SEE GENESIS 3:21) [For God and man to be reconciled to one another again, a sacrifice must be made.]
What lessons or principles do we learn from Abraham’s experience on Mount Moriah? (SEE GENESIS 22) [Everyone needs atonement. You can’t love God enough, obey God enough, or give God enough to atone for your own sins. God must provide Himself a Lamb.)
These are lessons the people of God had to learn. God was teaching mankind to hope in a Redeemer.
In the lesson today, we will turn to Exodus, where we find the descendants of Abraham living in bondage in Egypt. Two men are pitted against each other, Pharaoh and Moses. After a great contest of wills, the Will of God versus the will of Pharaoh, the conflict was decided when God passed through the land of Egypt, killing every firstborn son in the land, except those who had sought shelter in a house protected by the blood of a Lamb. From these circumstances, we learn another principle of atonement: there is power in the blood of the Lamb.
One of the hymns generations of Christians have loved to sing is, “Power in the Blood.” Fill in the blanks for me:
Would you be ___________ from the __________ of sin,
There is power in the blood, power in the blood.
Would you o’er evil a ____________ win,
There is wonderful ______________ in the blood.
That truth is illustrated by the Passover and God’s deliverance of the Jews from the land of Egypt.
In Exodus, we fast-forward 600 years past Mount Moriah to the land of Egypt. During that time, a number of changes had taken place.
Isaac and his wife had given birth to two sons, Esau and Jacob.
The covenant of blessing that God had made with Abraham was transferred by God from Abraham to Isaac, and then from Isaac to Jacob and his descendants.
God had changed Jacob’s name to Israel, and the Jewish people began to be called the Children of Israel.
When Jacob died, the Children of Israel were living in Egypt, not in the land of Canaan which God had promised them. That led to one of the most tragic times in Israel’s history – the period of Egyptian bondage.
Exodus tells the story of that bondage, and what God did to set His people free.
I. Israel’s Period of Bondage (Exodus 1:1-14)
A. The expression of God’s blessing upon the Jews (v. 1-7)
QUESTION: What did God promise to do for Abraham? (Make of Him a great nation!)
QUESTION: What had God been doing in Egypt during all this time? (Keeping His promise!)
God has promised to make of Israel a great nation, and He has done it! They have multiplied so much that they are seen as a potential threat to the Egyptians. This fact does not escape the notice of the new king of Egypt, and that leads to their enslavement.
B. The explanation of Egypt’s enslavement of the Jews
NOTE: Exodus is both historical and theological. Moses and Pharaoh were real men. The places named can be located on a map. These events unfolded exactly as recorded. At the same time, God is teaching and illustrating spiritual truths through the Exodus. If we overlook that, we will miss some of the important lessons God intends for us to learn.
1. The source of Israel’s bondage: a new king (v. 8-11)
QUESTION: Does anyone know what animal graced the crown of the Pharaoh’s? (It was a cobra, a serpent.)
a. The king of Egypt is identified with the “seed of the serpent” (Genesis 3:15)
b. This seed of the serpent, who sees the multiplying seed of Abraham as a threat, makes the Israelites the servants of his will, fulfilling his purpose.
2. The severity of Israel’s bondage (v. 12-14)
a. One thing Pharaoh could not do was to keep God from blessing His people and keeping the promise He had made to Abraham. They continued to multiply and grow.
b. The more God blessed them and grew them, the more Pharaoh sought to keep them in bondage and to make their lives as bitter as possible.
It must be noted that this was only possible because the children of Israel had become comfortable in a place they did not belong. They forgot that Egypt was not their home; they belonged in Canaan. They were not Egyptians; they were the Children of Israel, the people of God. It wasn’t until they remembered that fact that they were ready for God to deliver them.
II. God’s Promise of Deliverance
Genesis 3:15 states that the seed of the serpent would bruise the heel of the Seed of Promise, but the seed of promise would bruise the serpent’s head. When God raised up Moses to deliver His people, He was demonstrating His ability to keep that promise.
A. God’s awareness of Israel’s condition (Exodus 3:7-10)
1. Sin may separate people from God’s blessings, but it cannot separate them from His compassion and love.
2. God did not just feel pity for the Israelites; He had a plan to rescue them from their oppression.
B. God’s answer for Israel’s condition (Exodus 6:5-9)
1. To rescue them from their bondage (v. 6)
2. To reconcile their relationship to Him (v. 7)
QUESTION: What is the purpose of atonement? [AT-ONE-MENT]
QUESTION: What does this tell us about Israel and their relationship to the Lord at this time?
[In the same way a Pharaoh could come along of whom it could be said that he knew not Joseph, the Israelites had come to a place where it could be said that they didn’t really know God.]
3. To return them to the land of promise (v. 8)
Israel could no more deliver themselves from the bondage of Egypt than we can deliver ourselves from the bondage of sin. Every Jew of that generation was born into slavery. Most were subject to cruel taskmasters, and even those who were given positions of prestige and power among the Jews were never allowed to forget that they were slaves. Their only hope of deliverance from the cruelty of the seed of the serpent was for God to keep His promise to send a Savior.
The Passover was a means by which God illustrated this truth.
III. The Pictures in the Passover
The Passover reinforces the truth that God’s method of delivering men from their sins is through the blood of a sacrificed lamb. When God passed through Egypt on the night of the Passover, deliverance was determined by just one factor: had the people sought refuge in a home where the blood of the lamb had been applied. Where no blood was applied, the firstborn son died.
A. God’s plan of salvation (Exodus 12)
God’s plan involved two steps. The first pictured God’s promise; the second pictured man’s responsibility.
1. The blood of the Lamb must be shed. (v. 3-7)
a. It was the blood of a sinless substitute: an innocent, spotless lamb would die so that sons would not have to die.
b. The Lamb’s blood was sufficient to save everyone: no matter how small or large a family might be, one lamb was all that was required to spare that home from the coming Judgment of God.
God’s purpose is to show us that there is a seed of the serpent, those whom Jesus later described as being of their father, the devil. Upon them, God’s judgment will fall. The only way to escape that judgment is through the blood of the Lamb. The New Testament makes clear that the offer of salvation is extended to everyone. “Whosoever will, may come!”
2. The blood of the Lamb must be applied. (v. 7, 12-13)
It wasn’t enough for the lamb to be killed. A man had to take the blood of the lamb and apply it to the door of his home. If he didn’t, a son would still die!
The only reason a man would refuse or neglect to apply the blood is if he didn’t believe that it was necessary.
a. Jesus shed His blood so that ALL could be saved. (John 3:16)
b. Only those who believe in Christ as their personal Savior will be saved. (John 3:17-18)
B. The power of the blood
In these verses, we see the power of the blood to accomplish three things in our lives.
1. The power to impart new life (vs 2 – the beginning of months)
Being saved means getting a brand new start in life. Old things are passed away and all things are become new (2 Corinthians 5:17)
2. The power to protect from God’s judgment (v. 12-13)
a. Every man is guilty of sin (Romans 3:10)
b. Every man deserves to be punished for his sins (Romans 6:23)
c. Jesus shed His blood to save us from the condemnation of God and the judgment our sins deserve. (Romans 10:13)
3. The power to release from sin’s bondage (Exodus 12:11, 30-31)
Israel was set free from their slavery and sent out of Egypt that they might serve the Lord instead of Pharaoh. In the months ahead, as they saw the Red Sea parted and walked across on dry land, as they received manna from Heaven and water from a rock, they would learn what it meant for them to be “more than conquerers” through the One who loved them. He had seen their oppression. He had heard their cries. He had raised up a deliverer. He had set them free.
The Gospel tells us that we come into this world needing deliverance form the bondage of sin and the fatal judgment of God. The salvation we need is available because God has provided a sinless substitute, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who was slain for the sins of the whole world. His blood is applied to our lives when we receive Him as our Savior. At that moment, we become new creatures with the ability to live in newness of life. From that point forward, we are eternally protected from the Judgment of God our sins have earned. We no longer are bound to live as slaves unto sin, but we can live each day in service to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Lesson Four: The Way Back to God
Text: Leviticus 1:1-3:17
Date: February 5, 2017
Before we pick up the Scarlet Thread of Atonement in Leviticus, we need to understand two significant events that occurred between the Passover and this point in the Israelite’s journey towards Canaan.
First, about 3 months after the Passover, the Children of Israel arrived at Mount Sinai. There, they received the Ten Commandments. Exodus describes God as coming down upon the mountain in a fire. The mountain shook. It was covered in smoke as if the mountain had become a flaming furnace. While the Israelites gazed in wonder, God audibly spoke to them from off the mountain. He recited the Ten Commandments. As He spoke, the mountain rumbled with thunder and flashed with lightening. By the time God had finished, the Israelites had retreated afar off. To Moses they said, “Speak thou with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” Being in the presence of a holy God as He upheld the dictates of His Law was the most terrifying experience they had ever had.
In addition to receiving the Ten Commandments, Moses was also given instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle. After a year in the wilderness, the Tabernacle was erected for the first time. When everything was in place, God again came down among His people. That day, God up residence in the Tabernacle in a cloud, filling it with His glory. God had come to live with His people.
When God gave the Children of Israel the Ten Commandments upon Mount Sinai, the Israelites were confronted with God’s holiness – and it frightened them. The Tabernacle, the House of God, now stood in the midst of them, inviting them to come and commune with God. Can you see a problem here? When confronted with the stark holiness of God, they had retreated in fear. Why would they want to repeat that experience? Why would they think future encounters with God would be any different?
Sinai emphasized the distance between them and God. The Tabernacle offered them nearness to God. The means by which that gap would be bridged was atonement.
In the first five chapters of Leviticus, God outlined five offerings the Israelites would need to make in order to enjoy the fellowship with Him the Tabernacle offered them. The first three were voluntary. Each represented an invitation to the individual Israelite to come worship the Lord. In this lesson, we will consider the first two, the burnt offering and the meat offering, focusing on what they teach us about atonement and how it alters our relationship to God.
I. Atonement removes our guilt before God (Leviticus 1)
The Burnt Offering teaches us that guilty sinners may come to God and find forgiveness. When offered in accordance with God’s instructions, God promised that it would be accepted for him to make atonement for him (verse 4). After offering this sacrifice, the worshipper left the Tabernacle at one with the Holy God of the Law.
A. The Burnt Offering offered access to God to any of the Children of Israel.
1. “If” a man wanted to come to God God’s way, he was invited to come.
2. The lack of a set time or day meant that God was offering to be reconciled to the sinner when he was conscious of his need to be right with God.
I was sharing the Gospel with a lady one day, and when I asked her if she would like to receive Christ as her Savior, she asked, “Could I come to church and do it this Sunday?” I said, “You don’t have to wait until Sunday. God is ready to save you right now!”
3. God’s provision of different animals meant that God’s forgiveness was within reach of rich and poor alike.
B. The Burnt Offering provided the means for individual atonement.
1. A man had to do it willingly (v. 3).
a.) God had provided a way for him to be reconciled to God, but the responsibility to seek being made right with God lay with him.
b.) God’s “whosoever” will invitation to salvation means that anyone can be saved, but no one is saved until he chooses to do so.
2. The manner in which the offering was made reminded the man of his sinfulness.
a) Until the sacrifice had been made, he was denied access to God. The offering was made at the door of the Tabernacle.
b) When the animal was killed, the man was reminded that he was personally responsible for its death.
(1) By laying his hands on its head, he acknowledged that it was dying in his place, for his sins.
(2) He had to kill it with his own hands, cut it in pieces, and give them to the priest who would burn them on the altar for him.
(3) In this manner, the offerer and the offering were identified as one.
3. Before the man’s offering could be burned, the blood of the sacrifice had to be applied “round about upon the altar.”
a) The only access to God, the only approach to the altar, was through blood.
b) Romans 3:24-25 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood…
4. The burnt offering reminded the worshipper that God’s forgiveness was offered freely, but it wasn’t cheap.
a) Every part of the sacrificed animal was burned. Nothing, not even the hide could be spared for any other use.
b) It was a stark reminder that in order for the sinner to be spared God’s judgment for his sin, another would suffer God’s judgment in his place.
Imagine how personal the whole process of sacrifice would feel as you watched an innocent animal die in your place, and then its body be consumed in the flames so you could have God’s forgiveness.
C. The burnt offering provided the sinners acceptance before God (vs 4).
1. Each of the animal offered pointed to Jesus in His unblemished perfection, wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, bearing the burdens of our sins in His own body on the Cross, so we could be accepted by God.
2. God received the sacrifice as a “sweet savor;” he was pleased with the sacrifice and received with pleasure the one who had offered it for his atonement.
Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
With the problem of guilt resolved, we are invited to deepen our relationship with God.
II. Atonement invites us to a life of Dependence upon God (Leviticus Chapter 2)
The Meat Offering teaches us that the forgiven should come to God grateful.
A. The meat offering was also voluntary – an expression of the worshippers gratitude to God for His blessings.
1. The meat offering was given of the staples of life, what men depended upon to live – flour, oil, an d the fruits of the harvest.
2. The term meat stresses the concept of a “portion.” The worshipper didn’t give all that he had to God, only a portion.
The portion given expressed His gratitude to God for all that God had blessed him with.
NOTE: The tithe was a specific portion and was required of God. The meat offering was a freewill offering. An Israelite gave it because he chose to.
3. Frankincense was added to the offerings as a symbol of gladness.
Frank-incense (emphasize) added a pleasant aroma to the offering. It demonstrated that this portion was given cheerfully, not grudgingly.
B. The meat offering also expressed the worshipper’s gratitude for those who ministered for God on his behalf (vs 3)
1. Because the priests were to always be available to God’s people, God provided for their support through the offerings.
2. The generosity of the meat offering determined how much would be left for Aaron and his sons. (The amount was totally left up to the worshipper.
C. Through this offering, God taught both worshipper and minister that they could depend upon Him to supply their every need.
1. Atonement brings us into relationship with God.
2. One aspect of our new relationship to God is knowing that He cares for us and provides for us.
3. What we give to God is an expression of how we have come to depend upon God in our day-to-day living for both physical and spiritual blessings.
The burnt offering was for the removal of guilt. Through the burnt offering, a sinner could be made right before God. With sin out of the way, the worshipper was invited into a deeper relationship to God. God wanted him to know that he could depend upon God to provide for all his needs, both physical and spiritual.
We don’t need to make burnt offerings today because Jesus provided the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. We come to God by way of His blood. Nor do we take meat offerings to the Tabernacle, because God’s people today aren’t confined to one land (Israel) or just one place of worship (the Tabernacle). The Gospel extends God’s forgiveness to the whole world and God established churches in every nation. However, the principles of worship remain the same. The New Testament instructions us to give to God according as He has prospered us. We still express our gratitude and dependence upon God for both physical and spiritual blessings through giving. How and where we give is not the same, but it is still a way that we demonstrate our delight in having been made one with God through the blood of His Son. How much MORE willing should we be to do that, knowing that we don’t come to God by way of cow, but through the Cross. Grace doesn’t lower the bar; it raises it.
Lesson Five: Atonement Provides Reconciliation
Text: Leviticus 3:1-17; 7:11-38
Date: February 12, 2017
Let’s take a few moments to review what we have learned as we have followed God’s Scarlet Thread of Atonement to this point in the Word of God.
Garden of Eden: Atonement covers the shame of sin (Adam and Eve hid themselves because they were ashamed)
Mount Moriah: Even good people need the atonement (Although Abraham had exhibited great obedience and faith, God still provided a ram for an offering)
Exodus: The atonement sets us free from the bondage of sin and the judgment of God
Burnt Offering: Atonement removes our guilt before God
Meat Offering: Atonement invites us to a life of grateful dependence upon God
TRANSITION: The third offering, called the Peace Offering, celebrates the benefits of being reconciled to God.
Romans 5:1-2 beautifully explains what the Peace Offering pictured. Paul wrote:
Therefore being justified by faith, we HAVE peace with God THROUGH our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we HAVE access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2)
When a sinner by faith calls upon Jesus Christ to save him from his sins, he receives peace with God. He is immediately brought into a right relationship with God. The sin that had formed an impenetrable barrier between him and God is removed from between them. Consequently, he has access by faith into every gracious provision that God has provided for him, both in this life and in the life to come. His relationship with God has been so radically changed, that he no longer cringes in fear at the thought of meeting God in all His glory, but looks forward to that day with great joy.
That is an aspect of a believer’s salvation that is worth celebrating over and over again, and that is what the Peace Offering symbolized. It was a joyful celebration of one who knew that it was well with His soul.
The procedures for making a peace offering are outlined in Leviticus three. A fuller explanation of why it was given and what it symbolized is given in Leviticus chapter seven. Although there are similarities between the peace offering and the burnt offering, some significant differences stand out.
The animal options were narrowed. The worshipper’s sacrifice had to be of his cattle, his sheep, or his goats. Birds were not acceptable for the peace offering.
The offering could be male or female, and it was not restricted by age.
Only select portions of the animal were burned. The remainder was to be eaten.
Leavened bread, forbidden in all other offerings, was permitted in the peace offering
The Peace Offering is the only offering that could be eaten by the worshipper.
Hebrews 10:1 describes all the elements of these offerings as “a shadow of good things to come.” Each pointed to the spiritual blessings that were coming through Jesus Christ. Through these offerings, God continues to help us see the benefits we have received through the precious, atoning blood of Jesus.
I. The price of peace is the blood of atonement (Leviticus 3:2)
A. The Peace Offering was initiated by the worshipper – one of three voluntary sacrifices an Israelite could make.
1. The name of this offering comes from the Hebrew word, shalom, often used as word of greeting or welcome.
2. It expresses a condition of well-being.
a) Physical well-being – good health and prosperity
b) Emotional well-being – a sense of contentment and rest
c) Social well-being – the absence of strife or conflictThe purpose of this sacrifice was not to obtain peace with God (the burnt offering accomplished that) but to praise God for the peace the worshipper had found in God.
B. The sacrifice of blood reminded the worshipper that the peace he enjoyed had been provided because another was punished in his place.
1. His sins were covered by the blood of atonement
2. He had no reason to fear the presence of God because he didn’t come by way of his own righteousness, but though the innocent sacrifice of another.
The New Testament clearly establishes that we have peace with God through the blood of Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 2:13-14 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace…
Colossians 1:20 And having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself…
SEE ALSO ROMANS 5:8-9
When we gather to worship God, we need to remember that the first reason God receives our worship is because we have peace with Him through the sacrifice of His Son.
II. The provision of peace is complete acceptance by God (Leviticus 3:3-5)
After the animal had been slain and its blood applied to the altar, the worshipper removed those parts of the animal that had a covering of fat. This included specific internal organs of all the animals, as well as the rump and tail of a sheep. In verse 16, God claims all the fat of these offerings for Himself.
A. Fat in the Bible is a symbol of prosperity, favor, strength, blessing, and/or delight.
Consider the following scripture passages.
Genesis 45:18 – ye shall eat the fat of the land
2 Samuel 1:22 “the fat of the mighty” (an indication of their superior strength)
Proverbs 11:25 – “The liberal soul shall be made fat…”
Proverbs 15:30 – “a good report maketh the bones fat”
Isaiah 55:2 – “eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness”
B. The offering of fat symbolized a happy, right relationship with the Lord.
1. Hospitality played a major role in the Middle East. One way that a person extended peace to another was through a meal.
a) When two people sat down and shared a meal together, all hostilities and differences were to be set aside.
b) One way that you demonstrated that you were at peace with your guest is that you offered him the best portions of meat (and these fatty portions were considered delicacies).
c) The serving and consuming of these portions conveyed that all was well between the two parties.
2. By “consuming” these fatty portions on the altar and receiving them as a “sweet savor” (v. 5, v. 16), God was demonstrating His complete acceptance of the worshipper.
Every believer is accepted by the Father, in Christ.God is able to be completely at peace with us, because He is fully satisfied with the sacrifice of His Son.
The peace we enjoy with God stems solely from the Cross, totally separated anything in us or done by us.
J.B. Stoney wrote: “The blessed God never alters nor diverges from the acceptance in which He has received us because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Alas! we diverge from the state in which God can ever be toward us as recorded in Romans 5:1-11. Many suppose that because they are conscious of sins, hence they must renew their acceptance with God. The truth is that God has not altered. His eye rests on the work accomplished by Christ for the believer. When you are not walking in the Spirit you are in the flesh… You have to be restored to fellowship, and when you are, you find your acceptance with God unchanged and unchangeable.”
TRANSITION: The peace offering prepared the worshipper to enjoy fellowship with God. We see this more fully in Leviticus 7.
III. The purpose of peace is to bring us into fellowship with God (Leviticus 7:11ff)
Leviticus 7 expands our understanding of the peace offerings. One truth that we see is that the portion of the offering that was not burnt was eaten. It was consumed as a fellowship meal in the presence of God (v. 15, 28-38)
A. Eating on the premises symbolized a sense of fellowship with the Lord.
1. That fellowship could prompted by gratitude for the blessings of God (v. 12-15)
2. Fellowship could be an expression of deeper devotion to God (v. 16 – vow)
3. Whatever prompted the worshipper to bring a peace offering, it always ended with the enjoyment of fellowshipping (eating) with the Lord.
B. A portion was given to the priest because we share our fellowship with the Lord with others.
1. The shed blood of Jesus brings us into relationship with the Lord, and with His people.
2. The blood that reconciles us to God also reconciles us to one another.
READ EPHESIANS 2:14-19
Atoning blood is reconciling blood. It brings us into relationship to God and into fellowship with God’s people. God demonstrated His acceptance of the worshipper by consuming the fat on the altar, and the worshippers – priests and offerers – demonstrated their acceptance of one another by consuming the remainder of the sacrifice together on the grounds of the Tabernacle. They celebrated the presence of God and the gracious acceptance He extended to them together.
God describes the church as a household, members of the same family. The faith that brings us into relationship with God brings us into relationship with one another. We are brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. We gather together as family to worship the Lord, and to encourage one another in the faith. The same blood that reconciles us to God makes it possible for us to be reconciled to one another. In demonstration of that spirit of reconciliation, God instructs us to pray for one another, forgive one another, bear one another’s burdens, to love one another, and to serve one another. The peace we have freely received from is to be liberally shared with the other members of our household of faith.
Lesson Six: All Sin Needs Forgiveness
Text: Leviticus 4:1-35
Date: February 19, 2017
To truly appreciate the significance of the blood of Jesus, we must think biblically about sin and its effect upon our lives. We live in a culture in which the subject of sin is taboo. We are conditioned to think about sin in unbiblical ways.
We are taught that we are basically good people who occasionally “mess up;” we are naturally disposed to do right, not to do wrong.
We are encouraged to stop labeling people’s behavior as right or wrong; but to celebrate each person’s right to choose for himself his own beliefs concerning right and wrong.
We are told that it is unhealthy and hurtful to talk about sin and judgment, and the need to have a god’s forgiveness. Those concepts produce guilt and lower self-esteem, and should be abandoned totally for themes like love, grace, and diversity.
We are told that God loves people to much to condemn people to hell just because they “mess up” once in a while.
The Sin Offering that is introduced in Leviticus four contradicts these claims. It teaches us that all sin, even what we might call “unintentional” sins, need God’s forgiveness. It teaches us that we cannot ignore sin, and we cannot claim ignorance of a sin as a reason to escape its punishment. It also pointed forward to the day when Christians could rest in the assurance that the blood of Jesus provides cleansing from all sin (1 John 1:7).
I. We need Atonement because Sin is Common to Every Life
A. Anyone may sin – “If a soul shall sin…”
The general way God introduces this offering underscores that sin is universal.
(Anyone may sin; so, everyone needs to know how they should respond to sin.)
B. No one is excused from sinning, and all are held accountable for the sins they commit.
1. Spiritual leaders may sin – priests (v. 3)
2. An entire congregation may sin (v. 13)
3. Government officials may sin (v. 22)
4. Ordinary people may sin (v. 27)
TRANSITION: No one is excused because of a position he holds, the power he wields, how poor he may be, etc. Sin is universal, and the need for atonement is universal.
II. We need Atonement because Sin has Consequences in Life
A. It makes us guilty before God (v. 2)
1. If we do something that ought not to be done, we are guilty of sinning.
2. If we do something that violates (is against) God’s law, we are guilty of sinning.
3. Ignorance of a sin doesn’t make it any less of a sin.
a) To sin through ignorance could mean that a person really didn’t know that he was doing something wrong.
Years ago, my wife turned the wrong way down a one way street in downtown San Antonio. She had not gone very far when she discovered her mistake. First, because she was headed into traffic. Second, because she attracted the attention of a police officer. She really didn’t mean to do it, but that did not keep her from getting a ticket.
b) To sin through ignorance could also mean that a person ignored what God said because they failed to see the significance of what God required.
(1) “I didn’t think that it was all that important. I didn’t think it was that big a deal.”
(2) “I didn’t really think it applied to me.”
Many years ago, I had preached in a church on a Sunday night, and I had about a 2-3 hour drive to get back to where I was staying, so it was fairly late in the evening, and I was the only one on the road. The road had a fair amount of curves, and most of them were posted with a yellow sign warning of the curve, and cautioned me to slow down. I hardly slowed down for any of them. But I did stop for a set of flashing red and blue lights. I had Texas plates and a Texas license and I still had my suit on. In response to the officer’s questions, I told him where I had preached that night and where I was headed. Then he asked, “Did you see the speed limit signs posted on the curves?” I said that I had. He asked, “Then why didn’t you slow down.” I answered honestly, “I didn’t think I needed to. I thought those speed limits were just suggestions for taking the curves safely.” That is the first and only time I have heard a police officer laugh during a traffic stop. He then informed me that the state of Georgia didn’t post “suggested” speed limits, and told me to slow down. He did not write me a ticket, but he could have, and I would have had to pay it because my confidence that those signs didn’t apply to me did not alter the fact that they did.
QUESTION: Is there anything we can do to arm ourselves against sins of ignorance?
APPLICATION: Sins of ignorance can be avoided by taking the time to know God, to know His mind on matters, and to know His way for our lives. The Sin Offering teaches us that sin can be worse than we think it is, and nurturing our relationship to God deserves more importance than we may give it in life.
B. It is potentially harmful to others
All sin is harmful, but some sins have the potential to harm more people.
1. God prescribes different offerings, based upon a person’s position in society: the higher the position, the more costly the sacrifice.
2. The greatest cost was assigned to those identified as “spiritual” people: the priests and the congregation of Israel.
Each offered the most expensive sacrifice, a bullock.
Although the fat was burned on the altar, the remainder was burned outside the camp (the “city limits”), reminding the people that instead of having a holy influence in their community, their sins contaminated their community.
a) Every life influences the lives of others.
b) The higher one’s position, the greater his/her potential to influence others
c) The greater one’s influence, the more costly his sin may be in the harm it causes to others.
d ) Those in a position to do the greatest good or the greatest harm are those who bear the Name of God upon their lives.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT:
According to a study done in 2012 by the Barna Group, 84 percent of non-Christians knew someone who professed to be a believer, but only 15 percent said the lifestyles of the Christians were noticeably different in a positive way. God’s plan is not for His children to blend in and be indistinguishable from the world, but for us to stand out. 1 Peter 2:9 states, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”
It would do well for Churches and Christians to ask how responsible we may be for some of the corruption in our communities because we, in our ignorance, have failed to be a holy people for the Lord.
TRANSITION: Sin is common, and sin has consequences
III. Through the Blood of Atonement, we have God’s Forgiveness for our Sins
In verses 6-7, God instructs the priests to apply the blood of atonement in three different places. Each of these illustrate what the blood of Christ does for us when we confess our sins and seek to be right with Him.
A. It gives us our access to God – before the LORD, before the vail
1. The vail was a thick curtain dividing the inner sanctuary into two rooms: one where the priests ministered every day, and one where God dwelled among His people.
2. The sprinkling of the blood before the vail symbolized that the sin that had arisen between them and God had been taken out of the way.
B. It purifies our fellowship with God – the horns of the altar of sweet incense .
1. The altar of incense pictured the prayer life of God’s people – that God was please with their prayers and enjoyed communing with them in that way.
2. The application of the blood to the horns of the altar symbolized that their sin would not prevent Him from hearing and answering their prayers.
C. It preserves us from the wrath of God our sins deserve – pour all the blood … at the bottom of the altar
1. The brazen altar continually burned with flames, picturing the righteous wrath of God against sin.
2. The presence of the blood on or at the bottom of the altar symbolized that what shielded the sinner from the judgment his sins deserved was the blood of atonement.
The Israelites were not the only ones to need forgiveness for their sins. We do, too. To the glory of God, the New Testament teaches us that the forgiveness that the Old Testament sacrifices only pictured is ours today through the precious blood of Jesus.
That doesn’t mean that we take sin lightly. It means that we take our relationship to the Lord and our influence for Christ in this world seriously. We should live to show our world the difference that Jesus makes in our lives.\
Lesson Seven: The Smitten Rock
Text: Exodus 17
Date: February 26, 2017
The whole Bible is about Jesus, and the main story thread of the Bible is the Scarlet Thread of Atonement. To rescue us from sin and its effects upon our lives, Jesus Christ gave Himself in sacrifice for our sins.
This truth is not only explicitly taught in the Bible, but frequently illustrated as well. We know this, in part, because of what is written in 1 Corinthians 10.
READ 1 CORINTHIANS 10:1-6
Paul identifies the rock smitten in the wilderness with Jesus Christ. It was a visible object lesson pf what Jesus suffered on the Cross in order to save us from our sins. It is a reminder that Jesus not only shed His blood for the remission of our sins, but He suffered the abuse of men and the horrors of the cross in order to do so. That is what is pictured for us in this account from Israel’s journey through the wilderness.
I. Israel Encountered a Crisis at Rephidim
Rephidim is situated at the foot of the mountain range that leads to Mount Sinai. According to F. B. Meyer, the scenery at Rephidim is breathtaking. It has the same kind of beauty as Monument Valley or the Painted Desert in Northeast Arizona. If you were planning a vacation through that area, Rephidim is a place you wouldn’t want to miss. However, it situated in the middle of a harsh desert wilderness, and at that time there was nothing to drink at Rephidim.
A. This shortage of water was encountered on the road of Israel’s obedience to God
According to verse 1, the Israelites arrived there according to the commandment of the Lord. It wasn’t an accident; it was the will of God.
1. Following God does not exempt us from trials.
Psalm 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.
2. Trials and difficulties are among the tools that God uses to sanctify His people.
a) Sanctification is the process God uses to make Christians progressively more holy, more like Jesus Christ.
b) The blood of Jesus redeems us and brings us into relationship with God, but we come to him with a lot of residual sin in our lives that needs to go.
c) Trials and difficulties allow us to see what is in us that still needs to be changed.
Illustration: When you place a tea bag in a cup of hot water what happens? (The water changes color; it takes on the flavor of the tea.) Suppose the tea in the bag is really bitter. What’s to blame for the bitter taste: the hot water, or the leaves in the bag? How do you think this illustrates what happens when God puts us in “hot water” situations in life?
B. This shortage of water presented them with a need that was impossible for them to meet, and God did not immediately supply what they needed.
Verse 3 tells us that the people thirsted there for water. We don’t know how long this took, but it tells us the problem was beginning to become unbearable.
Children began asking their parents for something to drink, and the parents couldn’t give them anything.Lowing cattle was a constant reminder of the severity of the need, as they loudly announced their thirst to the herdsman.
The rocky, dusty landscape offered no solution to the dry eyes and parched lips of the Israelites.
1. Few things reveal the condition of hearts like impossible circumstances and the necessity of waiting on God.
2. What comes out of hearts in such circumstances reveals what still needs to change in our lives.
The real problem at Rephidim wasn’t the absence of water; it was what came gushing out of the hearts of the Israelites when water was withheld from them.
II. Israel Responded Carnally to their Crisis
Instead of turning to the Lord and crying out in faith to Him for a solution, they took their anger and frustration out on Moses.
A. Their complaints were aimed at Moses because He was “in charge”.
1. They “chided” with Moses – they confronted him and blamed him for their problem.
a) To chide means to to strive with words, to scold, or reprimand.
(1) We would say that they gave Moses a “chewing out” or they “told him off.”
(2) The people were frustrated, afraid, angry, and they took it out on Moses – because He was in charge.
b) This was very personal and confrontational, as evidenced by their demand that Moses give them water to drink.
(1) This was unfair because Moses had not chosen Rephidim; God had.
(2) This was unrealistic, because they were expecting Moses to solve a problem that a million others were equally incapable of solving!
2. They murmured against Moses – “venting” their frustration with Moses to one another (v. 3a)
a) Murmuring is what people do in the background, as they whine, grumble, and gripe to others of their dissatisfaction and discontent.
b) When people are murmuring about their problems, it is a sure indication that they are not looking to God for a solution.
3. They blamed Moses for their crisis and publicly questioned his motives (v. 3b)
B. Their complaints were a demonstration of their lack of faith in God (v. 2, 7)
Philip Ryken: “All our dissatisfaction shows that we are disappointed with God. To put it another way, all our complaints go straight to the top, where God rules the universe by his sovereign power. Whatever the reason for our discontent, what it really shows is that we are not satisfied with what God has given us. This is a great sin. It is not wrong to take our troubles to God, talking them over with him in prayer. In fact, the Bible encourages us to be honest about our doubts and difficulties. But God does not accept open revolt against his holy will or the refusal to trust in his perfect word.”
SEE HANDOUT ON MURMURING
TRANSITION: Moses responded to the escalating crisis with prayer. He turned to God for a solution, and God told Him how to resolve the problem.
III. God’s Answer to the Crisis at Rephidim was Provided Through a Smitten Rock
A. The Smitten Rock was God’s plan.
Moses was instructed of God to go to “the rock in Horeb,” taking the elders of Israel with him to witness the coming miracle.Moses was to take his rod with him, a constant reminder of his dependence upon God to do the mighty works required to deliver and provide for His people.
Moses was to strike the rock with his rod, with the promise that water would spring forth from the rock
1. It was a plan that would look foolish in the eyes of those watching
The last place you would turn for water is a rock, and hitting a rock with a wooden staff is not likely to improve your chances of success – unless it is what God told you to do.
2. It was a plan that required Moses to act in faith; he had to depend upon God to perform the impossible.
B. The Smitten Rock was a picture of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4)
1. The main problem to be resolved at Rephidim was not the problem of thirst, but of sin.
a) Israel’s thirst didn’t reveal the limitations of Rephidim so much as it did the sinfulness of the Israelite’s hearts.
b) Israel’s chiding, murmuring, and blaming revealed that more than they needed water, they needed to be changed.
2. God has many ways of solving the problem of thirst, but He has only one way of solving the problem of sin.
a) That’s why the Rock was smitten: it pictured Jesus delivering us from the far greater danger of dying in sin than of dying of thirst.
b) While we rejoice in God’s ability to supply all our needs, the one need we share in common with everyone is the need of God’s deliverance from sin and its effects upon our lives.
There are many lessons we can learn from this account. We can be reminded of our need to be delivered from the sin of griping and complaining every time life doesn’t go like we think it should. It is a faithless response that demonstrates our need to be willing to trust and wait on God. However, if we look to ourselves to overcome that sin, we will fail. The answer is not in us, but in the grace of God that comes to us through Jesus Christ, the Smitten Son of God. His atoning death not only secures our forgiveness of sin, but it also provides for our freedom from sin.
The lack of water revealed how greatly the children of Israel still needed to grow in faith and move forward on the path of sanctification. God graciously exposed their sinfulness so that He could point them to the answer He would provide through His Son. May God help us to remember that the next time His path for our lives leads through a desert place like Rephidim.
Lesson Eight – The Brass Serpent
Text: Numbers 21:4-9
Date: March 5, 2016
What is the purpose of atonement? (AT-ONE-MENT, to make us one with God again)
How and when was man’s oneness with God broken? (Garden, sin)
What is God’s provision for atonement? (Blood, Blood of Jesus)
Adrian Rogers said, “All of the Bible is about the Lord Jesus. It is a HIM book. If you don’t see Jesus, you’d better reread it!”
The whole Bible is a Gospel Book. It tells the story of man’s sin and God’s provision of a Savior. It does so in both words and pictures. Another of these pictures is found in the story of the Brass Serpent. Jesus Himself referred to this event in His conversation with Nicodemus (John 3). It is a story that takes us back to the Garden of Eden, to the record of man’s fall and God’s curse upon the serpent (Genesis 3).
In a very real sense, Adam and Eve were “snake-bit” in Eden. They were stricken with the deadly venom of sin and sin its curse was passed on to all their children. That is the bad news of the Gospel that is impossible to escape. The good news is that God has provided a Savior, one who would be born of a woman and who would crush the serpent and rescue us from the deadly poison of sin.
That truth is pictured in this account form Israel’s wilderness wanderings.
I. A Fresh Encounter with an Old Sin
Hebrews 12:1 speaks of a “sin doth so easily beset us.” We call it a “besetting” sin – a specific sin(s) that each of us, individually, is most likely to commit. These are sins that ensnare us and entangle us more easily and more frequently than other sins. My besetting sin may not be the same as yours, and vice-versa, but the writer of Hebrews says we all have one.
Can you guess from this account what Israel’s besetting sin was in the wilderness? It’s the same one we saw in the account of the Smitten Rock. Israel was prone to grumbling, complaining, griping, murmuring. Their default response to hardship, difficulty, discouragement, and disappointment was to murmur and complain.
One truth we learn from this lesson is that God views it as more wicked than we do.
A. It erupted because the Israelites become discouraged by the difficulty of “the way.”
Lawrence of Arabia, traveling that very part of the wilderness, described it as “hopelessness and sadness, deeper than all the open deserts [they] had crossed … there is something sinister, something actively evil in this [place], proliferent of salt water, barren palms, and bushes which served neither for grazing nor for firewood.”
Keil and Delitzsch …on the whole it is a horrible desert, with a loose sandy soil, and drifts of granite and other stones, where terrible sand-storms sometimes arise…
1. The Israelites sunk into a state of despair in which they believed they could not endure another moment in the wilderness.
2. In their discouraged state of mind, they became irritable, frustrated, weary, and critical of the leadership of God and Moses.
B. It was expressed in a spirit of defiance and rebellion.
1. They resented leaving Egypt (v. 5)
They blamed God and Moses for delivering them from the “better life” of Egyptian bondage.
2. They doubted God’s ability to sustain them in the wilderness or to take them into the Promised Land (v. 5)
NOTE: This is the generation that grew up in the wilderness. Yet, they expressed a lack of faith in the God who had protected them and provided for them for nearly 4 decades.
3. They were contemptuous and ungrateful of God’s daily provision of manna.
Discouragement and resentment are the mother sins of many greater sins. In their discouragement, the Children of Israel attacked God and God’s man Moses. They belittled God’s power, disdained God’s provision, and questioned God’s goodness. God’s judgment on these sins fell swiftly and severely.
II. God’s Judgment on Israel’s Sin
A. It was fiery.
The site of the snake bite became inflamed, spreading painfully through the body. Those who were stricken experienced much pain and suffering from the bite of the serpent.B.
B. It was fatal.
Many Israelites died an agonizing death because of their sin.
1. The wages of sin IS death (Romans 6:23; Genesis 2:17)
2. Men who die in their sin will face a much worse judgment of God, and face a far greater torment than any fiery serpent can inflict. Luke 16:24; Hebrews 9:27
Another truth we should have down by now is that the God of the Bible is a Saving God. Though He is a righteous Judge, His greater desire is to save men from the penalty and consequences of their sin. We see that again in this account. When Moses prays for the people, God tells Moses how the people can be saved from the deadly bite of the serpents.
III. God’s Provision for Saving Israel from His Judgment
With friends and family dying all around them, the people quickly confess their sin and appeal to God, through Moses, to take the serpents away. That would seem like a reasonable request, but that isn’t what God chose to do. Once again, we see that the real problem wasn’t snakes, it was sin. The snakes were a problem, and a big one, but they pointed to the greater issue of sin. God provided a solution that addressed both.
A. As before, God provided a plan that looked foolish.
Being cured by looking at a bronze serpent wrapped around a pole sounds absurd – and it would be absurd if it were proposed by anyone other than God!
B. As before, God provided a plan that required faith.
1. The people weren’t expecting the serpent on the pole to heal them; but the God who promised to heal them if they looked upon it.
2. When those who looked on the pole were instantly healed, no one could doubt that it was God who had healed them.
NOTE: Verse 9 clearly states that the person lived WHEN he beheld the serpent of brass.
NOTE: Those who died once the pole was in place did not die because they were bitten, but because they refused to look up to it in faith to be saved.
C. As before, God’s plan points to Jesus.
READ JOHN 3:14-15
QUESTION: How could our Savior, who is pictured as the innocent Lamb of God, be identified with the hideous image of a venomous serpent?
1. Jesus was made sin for us so that we could be made righteous in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21)
QUOTE: “Imagine that! In a sense, Christ became sin! He bore every evil passion and selfish degradation of the billions of people who have ever inhabited our planet. With that overwhelming deluge of misery collected upon Him and identified with Him as if He were the personification of all evil, He gave Himself up for destruction in order to wipe out all sin and all of its consequences.”
2. Those who look to Christ to save them from the deadly poison of sin receive eternal life in Jesus, to live forever with Him in Heaven.
Not everyone in the camp of Israel was bitten by a serpent, but everyone in the world has suffered the poison of sin because of the serpent’s “bite” in the Garden of Eden. Sin’s deadly poison courses through the veins of every living soul. Every person in the world is perishing as a result. They are headed to the grave and the judgment to follow, and there is only one cure: the Savior who died on Calvary’s tree. Just as those who looked upon the serpent lifted up in the wilderness with faith were instantly healed, so all who look to Jesus in faith are immediately saved. They pass from death to life through their faith in Jesus.
What should we do with this knowledge?
READ 2 CORINTHIANS 5:20-21.
Paul says we who have been reconciled to God by our faith in Jesus are ambassadors for Christ because we have experienced the truth of verse 21. We who have received the cure for sins’ deadly poison are sent by Jesus to be His ambassadors, telling others how they too can be saved because of His sacrifice for our sins.
Every Christian is an ambassador of Christ. No Christian can decline this appointment. YOU ARE your Savior’s spokesman sent out to reach others with the saving message of the Gospel. What kind of ambassador are you? Are you serving the interests of His kingdom, or your own?
Lesson Nine: The Sign of Jonah
Text: Jonah 1:1-2:2; Matthew 12:38-41
Date: March 12, 2017
The late M. R. DeHaan introduced his study of Jonah with the following statement:
No book of the Bible has been subjected to more scorn and ridicule by skeptics and infidels than the little Book of Jonah. Yet no book of the Old Testament is better authenticated, and its historical character placed beyond all shadow of doubt. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself vouches for this historicity and literalness of Jonah by seizing upon it as a type of His own literal Death and Resurrection. In Matthew 12:40, Jesus, in answer to His critics, who questioned His authority, says
“For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
This passage … immediately lifts the Book of Jonah above the realm of fiction or parable. Jesus places His stamp of approval upon the historicity of the account of the Book of Jonah
Jonah is more than a Bible story; it is actual history. More than that, Jonah’s three night stay in the belly of the whale is a prophetic picture of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. That is its connection with doctrine of atonement. It wasn’t enough for Jesus Christ to die for our sins on the Cross; it was also necessary for Him to be raised from the dead.
1 Corinthians 15:17 states, “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” If Jesus did not rise from the dead, the problem of sin has not been resolved. And if the problem of sin has not been resolved, then it still separates us from God. There can be no “AT-ONE-MENT” as long as sin stands between God and the sinner.
I. God called Jonah to Preach to a Sinful People
A. Nineveh is described as a great and wicked cityNineveh was on the banks of Tigris River, near the modern day city of Mosul.It was the principle city of the Assyrian Empire, and had risen to become the most powerful city in the Near East (about 550 miles northeast of Jerusalem)
1. It was a populous city, sprawling over approximately 50 square miles.
a) Every time God mentions Nineveh, He reminds Jonah that it is a “great” city. It was full of people.
b) We get an idea of its population by God’s revelation that there were 120,000 children in the city who were too young to have learned left from right (Jonah 4:11) .
2. It was a pagan city – full of the sins of idolatry and immorality that were rampant among the gentile nations
If you want to know more about the wickedness of Nineveh, read the prophecy of Nahum. It is described as a bloody city, full of lies and robbery. They waged war and measured their success in war by how high the enemy body count rose. They were infamous for their brutal and grisly treatment of their enemies. The city was full of harlotry and sorcery. (Hosea 3:1-4)
3. It was a perishing city. Jonah was sent to preach a message of coming judgment to the Ninevites (Jonah 3:4)
B. Jonah was sent to cry against the city.
1. Jonah’s call consisted of two actions: he was to go, and he was to preach. (Jonah 3:2)
2. God’s answer for a perishing city was to send them a preacher!
a) Nineveh was the city God wanted to save (Jonah 4:11)
b) Jonah was the man God wanted to use to reach them.
II. Jonah Rebelled against God’s Call
A. Jonah’s response to God’s command was to run away.
1. To get away from the presence of the Lord: Jonah wanted God to leave him alone!
2. To avoid the purpose of God: Jonah didn’t want anything to do with preaching to Ninevites.
As far as Jonah was concerned, every Ninevite could perish in the judgment of God. He wanted no part in preaching to them if it might lead to God sparing them from judgment.
B. God refused to allow Jonah’s rebellion to go unchallenged (1:4 But the Lord)
1. When confronted with his actions, Jonah was honest about his sin: he fled the presence of the Lord (verse 10)
2. When asked what they should do about it, Jonah revealed his unwillingness to change: he would rather drown in the ocean than obey God.
It is worth noting that a shipload of pagan sailors put forth a heroic effort to save Jonah from God’s judgment, while Jonah was unwilling to lift a finger to save multitudes from God’s judgment. It was only with great reluctance that they complied with Jonah’s wishes, casting him into the sea.
III. God Prepared a Great Fish to Save Jonah from His Rebellion and Nineveh from Coming Judgment
A. By means of the whale, God gave Jonah a second chance to obey Him (Jonah 3:1)
1. In every scene, we see God’s reluctance to give up on Jonah.
a) By sending a storm
b) By preparing the great fish
c) By hearing Jonah’s prayer
2. By not giving up on Jonah, God was giving him the opportunity to repent (to get right with God)
B. When Jonah prayed, God gave him a second opportunity to obey His Word and fulfill His will.
Verses 7-9 outlines three important steps in Jonah’s repentance
1. He remembered the Lord (v. 7)
2. Jonah realized that he had been deceived in trying to run from God, and had forsaken his only hope for mercy (v. 8)
3. Jonah renewed his surrender to the Lord and resolved to obey Him. (v. 9)
C. When Jonah preached, Nineveh humbled herself before God and God spared her from the judgment her sins deserved.
IV. God Prepared Jonah to be a Picture of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus
Just as Christ literally died on the cross and rose again from the dead, we can believe that Jonah died in the belly of the great fish and was raised again to life when the whale spit him out on the beach. This seems to be the plain sense of both the record of Jonah and the confirmation of Jesus.
A. Jonah passed through death and resurrection so that God could give Nineveh the opportunity to be spared from His judgment
B. Jesus passed through death and resurrection so that God could give the world the opportunity to be spared from His judgment.
In sending Jonah to preach to the great and wicked city of Nineveh, God demonstrated His mercy towards sinners and His desire to save them from judgment. In allowing him to die and to be raised again from the dead, God was portraying for us what Jesus would have to do in order to make us right with God again and save us from coming judgment.
At the heart of the story of Jonah is the desire of God to be at one with sinners. Because Jonah didn’t share God’s heart, he spent three days and nights in “the belly of hell,” before being spit up by the whale to fulfill the mission God had given him. Although Jonah was a reluctant missionary, God chose to use him to picture the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Jesus, of course, showed no reluctance in going to the cross for us that He might save us from our sins. Jonah became a rebellious prophet running from God. Jesus was a willing servant, obedient unto death, to save us. That He lives again is a testament to who He is and the power
He has to save us.
Lesson Ten: The Suffering Bearer of Good News
Text: Isaiah 52:7-53:11
Date: March 19, 2017
Six hundred fifty years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Isaiah foretold of a messenger who would come to Jerusalem bearing glad tidings of its Redeemer. For centuries, Isaiah’s prophecy brought both hope and uncertainty to the Jewish people. Their hope was found in that portion of the prophecy that seemed to point to the coming Messiah-King. During the exile years that followed the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC, and through the centuries in which their nation and its capital were ruled by the Gentile powers of Greece and Rome, the Jewish people longed for the day when the Messiah King would bare His holy arm and flex His omnipotent muscle to deliver them from their oppressors.
That which troubled them was the portion of the prophecy that described the suffering and rejection of this heavenly messenger. They did not see how it could be true of the coming Messiah, neither could they discern its importance. Until this very day, much of the prophecy remains a mystery to the Jews.
This prophecy provides an important link in the Scarlet Thread of Atonement that weaves its way through the Scriptures. It speaks of a chosen messenger who, though despised and rejected, would bring salvation to the Jews. By listening carefully to what Isaiah has to say, it should be clear who this messenger was and why he suffered as he did.
I. The Messenger was Marred (52:7-13)
A. He came bearing good news for Zion (Jerusalem)
1. He announced the beginning of the Kingdom of God (v. 7)
2. He announced the redemption of Jerusalem (v. 9)
3. He announced that the whole world would see the salvation of God (v. 10)
B. This messenger would be the servant of the Lord (v. 13)
1. His mission for the Lord will be successful (v. 13)
a) The word prudent means to act with intelligence and care
b) The business of one who deals prudently is usually profitable and successful
2. He would be enthroned and praised (v. 13)
a) This is another indication of the messenger’s success: he is lifted up on high (exalted) and men enthusiastically sing his praises.
b) The Jews identified this servant as the Messiah, the one who would sit upon the throne of David, deliver the people of God, and thus be the object of their worship and praise.
C. This messenger would suffer greatly (v. 14-15)
1. His appearance will be so disfigured – marred – that those who see him will be “turned to stone,” unable to move or speak, astonied.
2. His suffering will be known to many nations, causing kings to consider this messenger and his message (v. 15)
This prophecy is written in verse. It is poetry. Isaiah 52:7-13 forms one stanza; Isaiah 53 begins a new stanza, but they are part of the same poem. That is one reason we know that it continues to describe the ministry of the messenger introduced in the preceding chapter. It explains how the messenger was marred, and what his suffering accomplished.
II. The Messenger was Rejected (v. 53:1-3)
A. Men will reject his message in unbelief (v. 1)
1. Many who consider this messenger (52:15) will not believe what is reported of him.
NOTE: The introductory “who” is spoken with astonishment, as if the one asking the question is amazed that so few have believed.
2. Because of their unbelief, they will not see the mighty works of salvation (v. 10) accomplished by the omnipotent arm of the Lord.
B. His credentials will be looked upon with contempt (v. 2)
1. He will look too weak in their eyes – like a tender plant – instead of the mighty warrior who can lead them to victory.
2. His birth will appear questionable – a root out of dry ground – more like something that has sprung up in an unlikely place than a carefully cultivated and prepared servant of the Lord.
3. He will be better acquainted with sorrow and suffering than triumph and deliverance (v. 3)
These are not descriptions normally associated with a great and powerful king. They are more fitting to a lowly servant. That is one reason why the Jews have found this prophecy so confusing. The two images seem impossible to reconcile together with their Messiah.
III. The Messenger Suffered (v. 5-11)
In concise, yet revealing terms, Isaiah’s prophecy describes five distinct ways this messenger suffered.
A. He suffered for others – our griefs … our sorrows … our transgressions
B. He suffered physically – stricken … afflicted … wounded … bruised … stripesHe suffered for sin (v. 5-6)
C. He suffered and died (v. 8-9)
D. He suffered innocently (v. 9)
The messenger of this prophecy was marred through violent and brutal mistreatment. He did not deserve what happened to Him; He suffered in the place of others. Why? Why did this happen? What did this accomplish?
IV. The Messenger is a Savior (v. 10-12)
In these verses, the prophecy returns to the theme of redemption and salvation introduced in 52:9-10. The glad tidings of deliverance announced by the messenger was accomplished through the sacrifice of himself!
A. He sacrificed his life as an offering for sin, and it pleased God for his people to be saved in this way.
B. God saw his suffering and was satisfied with the sacrifice the messenger made
C. By means of his sacrifice, many could be justified.He died as a substitute: he bear their iniquities and was punished in their place
He became a mediator: he was counted as a transgressor so that he might intercede for their forgiveness.
Who is this marred, rejected, suffering, saving messenger who brings Good News to Israel?
READ ACTS 8:27-34, and verse 35
Who else could it be, but Jesus?
He came preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, calling for repentance and faith (Mark 1:14-15)
His message was rejected and he was despised (John 1:11; 8:41; 9:28-29)
He suffered and died for sins on the Cross (John 19)
The Bible tells the story of sin, suffering, death, and judgment. That would be the only story it could tell, if God had not provided us with a Savior. The Scarlet Thread of atonement that begins in Genesis three runs through all the Scripture, and it always takes us to Jesus.
Acts 4:12 – Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
1 John 4:10, 14 – Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins … And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.
Isaiah’s prophecy of the messenger who suffered for the sins of others clearly points to the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. So accurate is the depiction of the suffering and triumph of Calvary in these verses that is impossible to apply them to any historical figure other than Christ or any historical event other than His crucifixion. One benefit of Isaiah’s prophecy is that it reveals that His death was God’s method of redemption. Because God was satisfied with the offering He made, sinners can be at one with God again.
Lesson Eleven: The Lamb of God that Takes Away Sin
Text: John 1:29-37
Date: March 26, 2017
John the Baptist twice calls Jesus the Lamb of God. With this announcement, he identifies Jesus with a symbol that we have now become familiar with through this study: the sacrificial lamb. When a lamb appears in the Bible, it is usually identified with a sacrifice, especially a sacrifice for sins.
The first time the word lamb actually appears in the Bible is in Genesis 22:7. There, as father and son walk together towards Mount Moriah, Isaac speaks to Abraham. “Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering.” Perhaps with more confidence than he felt, Abraham answered, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.”
“Where is the lamb” is a question that was asked by men and women of faith for generations as they looked for the coming of the promised Redeemer. Like Abraham, they knew that God would one day provide Himself a lamb for the salvation of sinners. When Isaac asked the question, the Lamb of God was in Heaven, and only God the Father knew His identity. Two-thousand years later, John the Baptist pointed to Jesus, a man men could behold with their eyes, and said, “There … there is the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
Every phrase of John’s declaration tells us something important about Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. In this lesson, we will unpack the significance of this wonderful title of Jesus and see two practical and essential ways we should respond to the Lamb God sent to take away our sins.
I. Jesus is the Lamb who came to save us
A. John the Baptist was chosen by God to identify Jesus as the Lamb of God
READ LUKE 1:15-17
1. John the Baptist was the son of a priest, familiar with the importance of the sacrificial lamb that was so much a part of Israel’s heritage.
a) Twice a day, first at the Tabernacle and later at the Temple, a lamb was offered to atone for the sins of the people
b) Every year, when the Jews observed the Passover, a lamb was killed for every household to celebrate God’s redemption of His people out of Egypt.
c) Every day, individual Jews would bring a lamb to be sacrificed as an atonement for their own, personal relationship to God.
2. John proclaimed that Jesus was the lamb of prophecy who would solve the problem of sin.
While we do not know the limits of John’s understanding of the coming of the Cross, there is no doubt that John knew who Jesus was and what He came to do.
a) John had been telling people that Christ was coming (v. 30-31)
b) John had been preparing people to follow Jesus when He came (v.31)
(1) Baptism pictures the death, burial and resurrection of Christ – the Gospel truths that form the basis of our faith.
(2) Baptism always follows faith in the Bible. People believe, and then they are baptized
B. The title “Lamb of God’ conveys significant truths about Jesus
1. It identifies His divine origin – He is the Lamb of God.
a) Most lambs sacrificed in the Old Testament were provided by the worshipper
b) Sinners require the offering a lamb to atone for their sins; only God could provide the Lamb who could take away the sins of the world.
2. It pointed to the necessity of His death – He is the Lamb of God
a) Men had been bringing lambs to God for generations; but in the person of Christ, the Lamb had come to man.
b) Every lamb had reinforced the principle of a blood atonement
(1) Passover: “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.”
(2) At the Temple: The blood of sacrificed lambs was applied to the altar on which the sacrifice would be burned.
(3) The Biblical Principle: Without the shedding of blood, there would be no remission of sins (Hebrews 9:22)
c) From the moment Jesus was identified as the Lamb of God, men should have known that he would shed His blood in payment for sin
3. It magnifies His mission – to take away sin
a) Sin is what destroyed the oneness enjoyed between man and God at creation
b) Jesus could only restore oneness to man and God by taking away the sin that had come between them.
4. It proclaims the extent of His sacrifice – it would take away the sin of the world.
a) That it was offered for all the world means that all men need this saving work of Jesus
b) That it was offered for all the world means that His sacrifice can save all men
c) That it was offered for all the world means that only the sacrifice of Jesus can save.
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus
1 Corinthians 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ”Salvation is cannot be found in Mary, Buddha, Mohammed, or any other person.
C. God authenticated John’s announcement (v. 32-34)
1. John had been told that he would know the identity of the Messiah by the descending of the Holy Spirit upon Christ at His baptism.
2. John’s assurance that Jesus was both God’s Son and God’s Lamb came from seeing the Spirit descend upon Jesus, just as God had told him.
II. Those who Know Jesus is the Lamb of God should follow Him (v. 35-40)
A. John made disciples (35)
1. By definition, a disciple is a learner and a follower.
a) A disciple expects to be taught – to learn truth that will shape how he thinks and equip him to
b) A disciple intends to replicate – to publicly identify with and perpetuate the mission and purpose of the one teaching him.
2. John had men who followed him, learning from Him and emulating his example
B. John prepared his disciples to be followers of Jesus (v. 35-36)
1. John insured his disciples knew the importance of Jesus to their lives: He is the Lamb of God
2. With the encouragement of John, these men stopped following John and became disciples of Jesus
a) Many people think of the Gospel only in terms of having their sins taken away and receiving the hope of Heaven.
b) These men teach us that knowing Jesus as Savior has a bearing on our daily lives: we are to become His disciples.
c) Every Christian is expected to be a follower of Christ: obeying His commands and emulating the example He has given us.
III. Those who Know Jesus is the Lamb of God should bring others to Him
A. John the Baptist was a witness of Jesus (v. 34)
1. To “bare record” means to testify, to give testimony, or to witness.
2. John publicly went on record as believing that Jesus was the Son of God
B. The first followers of Jesus all became witnesses of Christ
The final emphasis of this segment is on those who believed that Jesus was the Lamb of God introducing Him to others.
1. The primary responsibility of every Christian is to bring others to Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:20
2. One sign that we are maturing as a Christian is when we begin to give the Gospel to others and introduce them to Jesus.
One of the most precious truths concerning our salvation is that God has done everything necessary to remove the sin that stands between Him and us, that we might have a relationship with Him again. God sent His Son into the world to take away our sins. When we believe that and put our trust in Jesus Christ as Savior, we are made one with God again.
As precious a truth as that is, that is not all that Jesus came to do. God not only desires to forgive us, but also to reclaim our lives from sin and use them to bring glory to Him. We have been reconciled to God, and God has entrusted us with the privilege and responsibility of bringing others to Him. We have a mission. Like John the Baptist, like Andrew, and like countless others before us, God wants to use us to reach the lost with the Good News that Jesus is the Son of God, the Lamb of God who came to take away our sins.
Why not pray this morning, dedicating yourself to personally reaching others for Jesus?
Lesson Twelve: Redemption and Forgiveness
Text: Ephesians 1:3-7
Date: April 2, 2017
The thread of atonement that we have traced through the Old Testament to the Cross of Jesus is a scarlet thread. It is a thread stained crimson with the blood of multiplied animal sacrifices, until we reach the New Testament. There, we are introduced to the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. This Jesus did through the shedding of His blood.
The scarlet thread of atonement leads us to a precious red substance, the blood of Jesus. In the book Blood Work, author Anthony Carter observes, “To read the Bible with any seriousness and sober discernment is to see the shedding of blood or the implications of it on practically every page. If the history of redemption is a story told in pictures, the blood of Christ is the paint with which that story is portrayed.”
It is impossible to faithfully teach the truth of atonement – of man’s restoration to oneness with God – without frequent references to the blood of Jesus. The blood of Christ so frequently mentioned in the New Testament is far more than just a symbolic reference to the Cross or a synonym of our Savior’s death. The shedding of the blood of Jesus is the very means by which all the benefits of our salvation were purchased for the Christian.
Listen to the witness of the Apostles.
1 Peter 1:19 “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot…”
Revelation 1:5 “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood…”
Hebrews 10:17-19 “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus…”
The significance of the blood of Jesus cannot be overstated. In Ephesians one, Paul traces the abundant blessings of God’s grace – all spiritual blessings in Heavenly places; the assurance that God has chosen us to live for ever before him in holiness, blamelessness, and loved; our acceptance, redemption and forgiveness – all to the blood of Jesus Christ.
In this lesson, we want to consider two benefits we have received through the atoning blood of Jesus.
I. We have Redemption – Ephesians 1:7
A. When God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden, He established His authority over their lives.
He gave them permission to eat the fruit of all the trees in Eden except one. As their Creator and Lord, God reminded them that one requirement of their relationship to Him was submission.
B. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, sin not only brought guilt and shame into their lives, it also took control of their lives.
1. By his sin, Adam sold the entire human race into slavery to sin.
a) John 8:34 “Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin”
b) Romans 5:21 That as sin hath reigned unto death…
c) Romans 6:16 “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death…”
Sin became a reigning power in the lives of mankind, controlling their lives and subjecting them to the very power of death itself.
Romans 5:12 “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin…”
Countless addicts well know the enslaving, destructive power of sin. Drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, and food enslave many. Equally addictive is the love of money, the desire for popularity, pride, gossip, bitterness, a critical spirit, and many other “lesser” sins. Sin can distort almost any good thing into something sinfully addictive that will take men captive to the very destruction of their souls and their lives.
C. God redeemed us from the power of sin through the shed blood of Jesus.
1. To redeem means to release through the payment of a price
2. That which is redeemed is restored to the ownership of the one who had lost possession
a) In the Old Testament, when a person lost control of his land because of the inability to pay a debt, he could redeem the land – have it released back to his possession – by making the required payment.
b) Similarly, if a person was forced into servitude to repay a debt by means of his labor, he could be redeemed – released from his service – by paying the price of his redemption.
c) When Israel was enslaved in Egypt, God redeemed the entire nation from their enslavement by the means of the Passover.
3. The price paid to release us from the bondage of sin and return us to God was the precious blood of Jesus. (1 Peter 1:19)
a)Redemption means our lives belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
b) Redemption means that sin has no further claim on our lives; we don’t owe sin anything (Romans 6:11-12, 14)
Psalm 107:2 says, “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy.” Are you counted among the redeemed? Has God set you free from sin and death? Then say so. Tell everyone what God has done for you.
II. We have the Forgiveness of Sins
Redemption and forgiveness are very closely related.
Redemption means we have been set free and returned to the ownership of GodForgiveness assures us that God will receive us with open arms; that He know longer holds our sins against us.
A. Sin has many negative effects upon our relationship with God
1. Sin alienates us from God – Ephesians 2:12
2. Sin burdens us with guilt
a) Adam was afraid to face God because he was ashamed of his condition. Genesis 3:7-10
b) The burden of David’s guilt made him feel as if he had shriveled and died on the inside Psalm 32:3-4
Unforgiven sin places a burden on the conscience that it was not created to bear.
Albert Speer was one of 24 Nazis tried at Nuremburg. He was the only one of those tried who admitted his guilt. He served a twenty-year prison sentence for his crimes. Following his conviction, Speer began to write about his experiences. He always took personal responsibility for his crimes as part of the Nazi regime. His writings became bestsellers. From the proceeds, Speer made substantial contributions to Jewish charities.
Speer died in 1981. Shortly before his death, he was interviewed on Good Morning America. The interviewer questioned Speer on a quote from one of his earliest writings.
He said, “You have said the guilt can never be forgiven or shouldn’t be. Do you still feel that way?”
Speer replied, “I have served a sentence of twenty years, and I could say, ‘I’m a free man, my conscience has been cleared …’ But I can’t get rid of it.”
The interviewer then asked, “You really don’t think you’ll be able to clear it totally?”
Speer shook his head. “I don’t think it will be possible.”
Though he took full responsibility for his crimes, paid for them with a prison term, and tried to make up for them with gifts of charity, Speer carried a weight of guilt over what he had done all the way to his grave.
3. Sin makes us feel worthless and defiled
a) When the prodigal returned home, he felt as if he were not worthy to be called his father’s son. Luke 15:21 – Why?
b) Peter felt like he was too sinful to be a follower of Jesus. Luke 5:4-8 – WHY?
B. Through the blood of Jesus, God completely forgives our sins
1. Forgiveness completely restores our relationship to God – Ephesians 2:13
2. Forgiveness completely removes the guilt of our sins.
Psalm 103:12 “As far as the east is from the west, so far He removed our transgressions from us”
Isaiah 38:17 “Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.”
Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.”
Isaiah 44:22 “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.”
Hebrews 10:17 “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”
3. Forgiveness frees us to live with present worth and future hope
READ PSALM 32:5-7; 51:7-10
Salvation provides us with immediate forgiveness, complete forgiveness, eternal forgiveness, and restorative forgiveness. That forgiveness is only available through the blood of Jesus. However, when a sinner receives Christ as His savior, all his sins – past, present, and whatever sins he may commit in the future – are all taken away from the sinner and put away from God. Nothing comes between the forgiven sinner and God. Nothing remains to strain the relationship, to prevent God from fully loving and receiving the forgiven individual.
Only the atoning blood of Christ allows God to forgive us like that. If you have received Christ as your Savior, you have been forgiven and redeemed. May we praise God for this wonderful outpouring of His grace.
Lesson Thirteen: Worthy is the Lamb
Text: Revelation 5:1-14
Date: April 9, 2017
The Scarlet Thread of Atonement ends in the Revelation. In this book, we find nearly 30 references to the Lamb of God. The first is found in Revelation chapter five, There, we read one of the most interesting contrasts in the Bible. In almost one breath, Jesus is called both the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and a Lamb as it had been slain. By joining these two titles together, the Holy Spirit, the divine author of all the Bible, assures us that Jesus is the fulfillment of all the Messianic hopes of the Jews and He is the Savior of the world.
After this paradoxical introduction of our Lord as the Lamb of God in chapter five, the Lamb appears repeatedly in the visions that John recorded. With each revelation, we gain a fresh understanding and appreciation of what Jesus Christ has secured for the Christian by virtue of His atoning blood. When we reach the end of the book, we have read of the worship of the Lamb, the wrath of the Lamb, the marriage of the Lamb, and the Lamb upon the throne, presiding over eternity.
The predominant name of Jesus in Revelation is “the Lamb.” That is the way He will be remembered for eternity. One truth we learn from this fact is that the crowning event of human history was the day when the Lamb of God shed His blood to redeem the world.
In this lesson, we will briefly consider three revelations of Christ the Lamb in the Revelation.
I. The Worth of the Lamb – Revelation 5:1-14
In this vision, our attention is immediately drawn to a “a book … sealed with seen seals.” The book is not named, but its significance is indicated by several facts we are given about this book.
It is held in the right hand of God. (Presumably, that is where one would find that book today.)The presence of the seals, and the proclamation of the angel, indicate that this book can only be opened by one with proper authority.That John wept when no one was found who was worthy to open the book.
That Jesus is worthy to break the seals of the book, initiating the events that will climx with His return to earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
From this scene, we learn two truths about the worth of Jesus.
A. Jesus is worthy to redeem the earth from its curse
READ ROMANS 8:19-23
1. Right now, the earth is under the curse and is awaiting its redemption day.
2. In its present state, it is not fit to be the Kingdom of Christ and His people (the sons of God)
a) When God created the world, he put it under the dominion of Adam and Eve. (Genesis 1:26-28)
b) By his fall, Adam forfeited his right to rule over God’s creation, and the earth came under the curse.
c) Today, Satan is the god of this world, reigning over it through “the rulers of the darkness of this world.” (See Ephesians 6:12; Matthew 4:8-9; 2 Corinthians 4:4)
d) The day is coming when, through Jesus, the meek shall inherit the earth.Matthew 5L5
3. Jesus, the Lion of Judah and the Lamb who was slain, is the redeemer of the earth.
Those whom He redeems will reign with Him, the earth having been made fit for His Kingdom.
Jesus is the only One worthy to open the book. He is the One who shed His blood to redeem us from our sins. He is the One who will reign over all the earth as its King. To have a place in His Kingdom, men must place their faith in His shed blood and become one of His redeemed people.
B. Jesus is worthy to be worshipped by the redeemed
1. We worship Him by exalting Him
a) Falling down before Him, making ourselves low that He might be lifted up on high (v. 8)
b) Make Him the central focus of our assembling together (v. 11)
2. We worship Him with singing (v. 9)
3. We worship Him by acknowledging His Lordship (v. 12-13)
a) Jesus is worthy of everything we can give Him – blessing, honor, glory, and more.
b) Worship has meaning when it reflects a humble heart and a bowed knee.
II. The Washed of the Lamb – Revelation 7:9-17
The Bible tells us that this present age will end in a period of Great Tribulation. The world will convulse with wars, indescribable “natural” disasters, and terrible judgments of God. An overview of these events is given in Revelation chapter 6. Chapter seven gives us another perspective. It tells us of a great, worldwide revival in which multitudes will be saved.
A. During the Tribulation, a great multitude of people will be saved.
1. Concerning their number, they will be countless.
2. Concerning their nationality, they will come form every race of people upon the earth.
B. Their salvation is attributed to the Lamb (v. 10)
1. They will be in the presence of God in Heaven (v. 9, 11)
a) They will hunger and thirst no more (v. 16)
b) They will sorrow no more (v. 17)
2. They will be robed in white – a symbol of the righteousness of Jesus Christ (v. 9, 12)
3. The whiteness of their robes is attributed to the cleansing power of the blood of the Lamb (v. 14)
a) During the Tribulation period, Jesus will still be known as the Savior – the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world
b) The blood that has the power to save and redeem in this present age will still have cleansing power in that period of divine judgment.
c) Until the very end of time, those who place their trust in the blood of Jesus will be cleansed of their sin and made as white as snow.
III. The Wedding of the Lamb – Revelation 19:1-9
Revelation nineteen describes the triumph of God over the kingdom of Satan. The judgment of God will have reached its climax, and the earth will be prepared for the coming of its true king, Jesus, and His bride. It will be the final triumph of what was purchased by the blood of Jesus at Calvary.
As all of Heaven rejoices over this victory, a great cry will be raised, like the sound of a great multitude of people, announcing the marriage of the Lamb.
A. Marriage was designed to reflect the relationship between Christ and His church – Ephesians 5:32
1. The plan of salvation was decided upon before the creation of the world.
a) Revelation 13:8 describes Jesus as the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world
b) 1 Peter 1:19-20 states that God ordained that sinners would be redeemed through the precious blood of Christ
2. God’s salvation plan included formation of the church.
a) Acts 20:28 states that Jesus purchased this church and every church with His blood.
b) 1 Corinthians 11:2 teaches us that a church is espoused (promised in marriage) to one husband, Jesus Christ
(1) Every local church is a mirror image of the completed church that will be assembled together in Heaven for the first time at the Rapture.
(2) Since the church did not exist until Jesus built it, and there will be no more churches after the rapture, we understand that the wife presented to Christ on His wedding day will be comprised of all the believers gathered together in Christ since the day Jesus laid the foundation of the church with the apostles until the last living stone is placed upon that foundation before the rapture. (Ephesians 3:20)
B. At the marriage of the Lamb, the church will be eternally joined to Jesus, to be ever at His side, in a union as sacred and permanent as human marriage was designed to be.
1. Jesus loved the church and gave Himself for it.
2. A church should love its Savior, submitting itself to Him and reverencing Him.
a) Does Jesus view us as a submissive bride?
b) Do our actions as members of a church demonstrate reverence to Him?
One day, maybe soon, Jesus will be coming for His bride. At this moment, He is working to sanctify us and cleanse us, that we might be ready for that day (Ephesians 5:26-27). Our responsibility until our wedding day arrives is to be as faithful to Him as any bride-to-be should be to her future husband.
The final mention of the Lamb in the Bible is in Revelation twenty-two. Two times the throne of Heaven is said to be the throne of God and of the Lamb. It is if God wants to give us one closing reminder that we will owe our presence in that place of eternal glory to the sacrifice of Jesus and the blood He shed to redeem us.
Every day we should remind ourselves that the most valuable commodity in the universe is the blood of Jesus. It has purchased for us what all the riches of the world never could: the redemption of our souls. Because of Jesus, our Redeemer, there is a Heaven in our future. Forever, we will gaze into the face of our Savior, holy and blameless, and loved. It is the blood of Christ that gives us this hope.
 Carson, D. A. (2010-07-01). The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story (Kindle Locations 640-644). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
 Preaching the Word Commentary on Exodus, pgs 448-449
 Jonah: Fact or Fiction, M.R. DeHaan
Carter; Anthony (2013-03-19). Blood Work (pp. 2-3). Reformation Trust Publishing. Kindle Edition.