|Genesis 4:||2: ...And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.|
3: And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.
4: And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:
Since Adam's day generations of believers have sacrificed animals as an expression of faith and a means of reconciliation. (Genesis 8: 20-21, 12: 7, 13: 18) But whose idea was it in the first place? Was it man's idea, or was it God's? Strange as it may seem it was God's idea. The Almighty had diligently instructed man that he would not receive forgiveness or blessing if he did not approach Him with the blood of a sacrifice. So down through the ages many thousands of animals were sacrificed as a means of access to Yahweh's holy presence. Later, again by divine decree, animal sacrifices were included in the laws given to Israel through Moses: but with a difference:
Failure to meet these basic requirements would prove disastrous for the persons involved. So in the course of time, millions of animals and birds were slain by Israel's priests and Levites as part of the worship installed by YAHWEH the Almighty God of Israel. It was a ghastly, bloody drama to say the least; and it went on year after year for many centuries.
To be sure Yahweh commanded it; but what did it mean? Why did a God of love design such a bloody and costly route to His presence? What did the blood of an innocent animal have to do with obtaining mercy? What mysterious lessons did the Creator have in mind which could not be taught in any other way? More importantly, are believers today expected to sacrifice animals before they can approach His holy throne?
These are questions which need answering, especially in Africa where to this day many Christian groups sacrifice bulls, goats, rams and pigeons as part of their worship of the Most High. Are their sacrifices in line with Bible requirements? Is there something they know that the Christians in Europe and the USA do not? Or have their leaders misunderstood the role of the Aaronic Priesthood and the all-encompassing sacrifice of Jesus and are making unnecessary, yea unauthorized sacrifices which amount to a denial of the Christian faith? This online booklet aims to answer these questions by briefly explaining the following:
|Hebrews 8:||6: ... he (Christ) is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.|
10: For this is the covenant that I will make with the House of Israel after those days, saith the Lord: I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts...
In other words in the new covenant Yahweh's law will not be obeyed reluctantly, but by choice, from a willing heart. For God promises to write His law on the willing believer's mind and soul, thereby ensuring spontaneous obedience and willing obedience. In the new covenant, Gentile believers (because of their faith in Christ) are also reckoned as descendants of Abraham. They are spiritual Israelites!
|Galatians 3:||29: And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
||29: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart...
For more information about this, see Who/What is a Jew?
The main difference between the two covenants as regards forgiveness and cleansing is concerned is this:
Remember that both covenants are made with Israel: and that Yahweh's moral laws remain unchanged in the new covenant. Few believers realize these facts.
|Numbers 28:||3: And thou shalt say unto them, This is the offering made by fire which ye shall offer unto the LORD; two lambs of the first year without spot day by day, for a continual burnt offering.|
4: The one lamb shalt thou offer in the morning, and the other lamb shalt thou offer at even;
5: And a tenth part of an ephah of flour for a meat offering, mingled with the fourth part of an hin of beaten oil.
6: It is a continual burnt offering, which was ordained in mount Sinai for a sweet savour, a sacrifice made by fire unto the LORD.
7: And the drink offering thereof shall be the fourth part of an hin for the one lamb: in the holy place shalt thou cause the strong wine to be poured unto the LORD for a drink offering.
8: And the other lamb shalt thou offer at even: as the meat offering of the morning, and as the drink offering thereof, thou shalt offer it, a sacrifice made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.
This meant that in the course of a 12 lunar month year (some 354 days) a total of approximately 708 lambs (354 x 2) were sacrificed.
|Numbers 28:||9: And on the Sabbath day two lambs of the first year without spot...|
10: This is the burnt offering of every Sabbath beside the continual burnt offering ...
This meant that in the course of a 12 month year (48 Sabbaths) another 96 lambs were sacrificed in addition to the 708 daily sacrifice total.
|Numbers 28:||11: And in the beginnings of your months ye shall offer a burnt offering unto the LORD; two young bullocks, and one ram, seven lambs of the first year without spot;|
12: And three tenth deals of flour for a meat offering, mingled with oil, for one bullock; and two tenth deals of flour for a meat offering, mingled with oil, for one ram;
13: And a several tenth deal of flour mingled with oil for a meat offering unto one lamb; for a burnt offering of a sweet savour, a sacrifice made by fire unto the LORD.
14: And their drink offerings shall be half an hin of wine unto a bullock, and the third part of an hin unto a ram, and a fourth part of an hin unto a lamb: this is the burnt offering of every month throughout the months of the year.
15: And one kid of the goats for a sin offering unto the LORD shall be offered, beside the continual burnt offering, and his drink offering.
This meant that in a 12 month year 24 bullocks, 12 rams, 84 lambs and 12 goats were sacrificed: all of these in addition to the Daily and Sabbath sacrifices.
|Numbers 28:||16: And in the fourteenth day of the first month is the passover of the LORD.|
17: And in the fifteenth day of this month is the feast: seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten...
19: But ye shall offer a sacrifice made by fire for a burnt offering unto the LORD; two young bullocks, and one ram, and seven lambs of the first year: they shall be unto you without blemish:...
24: After this manner ye shall offer daily, throughout the seven days, the meat of the sacrifice made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD: it shall be offered beside the continual burnt offering, and his drink offering.
This meant that 14 bullocks, 7 rams, 49 lambs and 7 goats were offered during the Passover week: once again all in addition to the Daily, the Sabbath, and the New Moon sacrifices already mentioned.
|Numbers 28:26-31||"... But ye shall offer for burnt offerings for a sweet savour unto the Lord; 2 young bullocks, 1 ram, 7 lambs of the first year ... and 1 kid of the goats to make an atonement for you."|
|Numbers 29:1-5||"... And ye shall offer for a burnt offering 1 young bullock, 1 ram, 7 lambs of the first year without blemish ... and 1 kid of the goats for a sin offering to make atonement for you."|
|Num 29:7-11||"... 1 young bullock, 1 ram, 7 lambs of the first year ... and 1 kid of the goats."|
In (Leviticus 16) we are told of how another bullock and two goats were involved in a special ceremony to make atonement for the priesthood and the people.
|Totals:||71||15||105||8||= 199 animals|
|Feast of Pentecost||2||1||7||1
|Feast of Trumpets||1||1||7||1
|Day of Atonement||2||1||7||3
|ANNUAL TOTAL:||114||37||1063||32||= 1246 animals.|
|Acts 15:||8: And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;|
9: And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
10: Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
Nevertheless, costly and bloody though the sacrificial system was, it was designed by the Almighty to teach several very important lessons; which no other educational process could hope to match. The lessons Yahweh wanted to teach His people, and the angel host which looked on in stunned amazement, were as follows:
These lessons were all dramatically portrayed each time an innocent animal's blood was spilled and a worshipper entered the presence of the Almighty. In other words, each sacrifice was a dramatic object lesson which pointed to the price Yahweh Himself would pay to make salvation possible. And what was the price that the Almighty Himself had planned to pay to secure man's salvation?
It was the life-blood of His only begotten Son.
Yes every animal sacrifice that was made at God's command was in fact a dramatic pointer to Christ's death on Calvary! Indeed the whole sacrificial system was a symbolic drama unfolding the Almighty's provision for man's forgiveness, cleansing and eternal salvation from sin and death. How true was Abraham's description of Yahweh's provision and personal involvement in sacrifice when he answered Isaac's question about the sacrificial lamb:
|Genesis 22:||7: And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?|
8: And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
And God did provide the Lamb - His only begotten Son. Indeed He provided a grown RAM which portrays His own (still hidden) involvement in the Plan of Salvation. That experience was also a spiritual object lesson designed to teach Abraham and the watching heavenly host that Yahweh Himself would one day pay the ultimate sacrifice to secure man's salvation. The word salvation encompasses the following:
Nevertheless the sacrificial system, costly, dramatic and explicit as it was, could never accomplish the Almighty's real objectives, which were:
At best that system was a spiritual object lesson to teach certain facts about salvation. Beyond that illustrative function it had little value. Why? Because the blood of bulls and goats is totally incapable of saving mankind from degeneration, disease and death. Salvation from these things calls for a far better solution. And so it was that to save the universe from sin and its result - death, the Almighty decided to pay the price Himself: to sacrifice His Son Yeshua (Jesus). This name means Saviour from sin.
Levi | .------------------------|---------------------. Gershon Kohath Merari | .--------------------------------,--------,---------. Amram Izhar Hebron Uzziel | |----------------,---------------, AARON Miriam Moses | The Aaronic Priesthood .--------.----|-------------------------. Nadab Ibihu ELEAZAR Ithamar | | PHINEHAZ | | | ABISHA | | | Bukki ELI Uzzi Hophni PHINEHAS Zerahiah Ihitub Ichabod Meraioth | Amariah AHIJAH Ahitub AHIMELECH ZADOK ABIATHAR
The Bible tells us many important facts about the Levitical Priesthood. I mention a few:
|Ezra 2:||61: And of the children of the priests: the children of Habaiah, the children of Koz, the children of Barzillai; which took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called after their name:|
62: These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but they were not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood.
|Leviticus 17:||1: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,|
2: Speak unto Aaron, and unto his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them; This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, saying,
3: What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat, in the camp, or that killeth it out of the camp,
4: And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer an offering unto the LORD before the tabernacle of the LORD; blood shall be imputed unto that man; he hath shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people:
5: To the end that the children of Israel may bring their sacrifices, which they offer in the open field, even that they may bring them unto the LORD, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest, and offer them for peace offerings unto the LORD.
6: And the priest shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar of the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and burn the fat for a sweet savour unto the LORD.
7: And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute for ever unto them throughout their generations.
8: And thou shalt say unto them, Whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers which sojourn among you, that offereth a burnt offering of sacrifice,
9: And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer it unto the LORD; even that man shall be cut off from among his people.
"The author of the Epistle of the Hebrews shows how great a personage Melchisedec was, to whom even Abraham and through him virtually Levi, paid tithes, thus admitting their inferiority. When thus our Lord was made a High Priest after the order of Melchisedec, he held a higher office than the Aaronic Priesthood." (Westminster Dictionary page 388)
|Hebrews 7:||17: For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec...|
26: For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;
27: Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.
Priests in the Melchisedec order will be appointed by Yahweh Himself. A man is no more able to appoint himself or another to the Melchisedec Priesthood than he is able to choose his own father or mother. Unlike their Aaronic counterparts, priests in the Melchisedec order are not dependent on an ancestral link to Aaron the Levite. Instead, like Melchisedec, they too are without genealogy. In other words their priesthood is by Yahweh's choice - not by natural descent. Melchisedec priests will be ordained as priests in Yahweh's own time - at some future date. Then in front of the redeemed host they will be invested with power and authority just as Aaron's sons were publicly ordained before the assembled hosts of Israel. (Leviticus chapters 8, Numbers chapters 8 and 18). Appointments to the Melchisedec Priesthood will be for eternity. In the Melchisedec Priesthood the blood of bulls, lambs, goats and pigeons is not used. This fact will be further explained later.
According to Scripture Gentile converts are grafted into the Olive of Israel (Romans 11:13-24). This means that we are grafted into one of the twelve tribes: and many will obviously be grafted into the tribe of Levi. We may, therefore, conclude that many faithful, Gentile believers will one day take up their eternal duties in the Melchisedec Priesthood as members of the tribe of Levi. In this sense the Levitical Priesthood is also eternal; just as the nation of Israel and its Davidic King are endless. Jeremiah 33:17-22 points out this fact. But, and here is an important point, though the Aaronic Priesthood is in this sense on-going, animal sacrifices will no longer be offered by the blood-born sons of Aaron. Why? Because the reality to which the first covenant animal sacrifices pointed has already occurred on Calvary.
|Deuteronomy 12:|| 2: Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills and under every green tree:|
3: And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place...
13: Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest:
|1 Kings 12:||31: And he (Jeroboam) made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.|
32: And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.
33: So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.
Jeroboam's sin was deadly. His efforts to detract believers from going to the Temple in Jerusalem brought down the wrath of the Almighty on Israel. Few - if any - kings of Israel have angered the Almighty as much as Jeroboam. In the course of time king Ahaz of Judah also sinned against God. Read about king Ahaz in 2 Kings 16.
|2 Kings 16:||1: In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah Ahaz the son of Jotham king of Judah began to reign.|
2: Twenty years old was Ahaz when he began to reign, and reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem, and did not that which was right in the sight of the LORD his God, like David his father.
3: But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel.
4: And he sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree...
10: And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that was at Damascus: and king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar, and the pattern of it, according to all the workmanship thereof.
11: And Urijah the priest built an altar according to all that king Ahaz had sent from Damascus: so Urijah the priest made it against king Ahaz came from Damascus.
12: And when the king was come from Damascus, the king saw the altar: and the king approached to the altar, and offered thereon.
The altar's of Jeroboam and Ahaz were an abomination to the Almighty. If you study the books of Kings and Chronicles you will see how God dealt with those two kings and their altars; not to mention the bogus priests who dared to treat His commandments with disdain. Astonishing as this may sound, a similar illegal duplication of altars and sacrifices is taking place in the name of Christ in parts of Africa. Deluded church leaders and self-appointed primates and priests who have absolutely no link with Aaron, are to this day offering animal sacrifices in angel gardens, leafy groves, beside river beds and often at the dead of night. There they splash the blood of bulls, rams, goats and pigeons on terrified souls who pay large sums of money in exchange for a few prayers! In doing so these leaders not only violate God's law about sacrificial altars but they pour contempt on the Messiah's sacrifice and blood. What do the Scriptures say about those who trample under foot the blood of the eternal covenant?
They say this:
|Hebrews 10:||26: For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,|
27: But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
28: He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
29: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
Woe to these religious charlatans! Woe also to the deluded souls who blindly involve themselves in their illegal rituals! Woe even to the complacent congregations where this form of deception is silently condoned. For though Christ is professed, these unauthorized sacrifices insult the blood of Christ.
Is Yahweh pleased with this religious charade? I tell you He is not pleased. In fact He is very angry; not just because His commandments are so brazenly broken and His reproofs repeatedly ignored; but because these religious leaders twist His law for private gain. Yes, they are growing rich at the expense of the poor. They are spiritual swindlers. I have seen them with my own eyes: self-appointed primates, priests and so-called Christian leaders who are in fact nothing more than wolves in sheep's clothing. Little do they realize what is in store for them! They are in fact filling up the cup of Yahweh's wrath; which, unless they repent, they will have to drink to the last drop. Woe to them if they do not repent!
|Isaiah 53:||5: But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities:The chastisement of our peace was upon him;and with his stripes we are healed.|
6: All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
After so great a sacrifice, how ought the sinner to approach the Almighty? There is only one answer; and that is: with repentance, faith & gratitude.
|John 3||16: For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.|
18: He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
|John 1:||29: ... Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.|
Do you believe these verses? Do you believe that Yahweh gave His only begotten Son Yeshua to die in your place, and that he is the Lamb of God? If you do, then you are in line for mercy, salvation and everlasting life.
|Hebrews 10:||11: And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:|
|Hebrews 9:||8: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:|
9: Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;
|Hebrews 7:||27: ... He (Messiah) has no need like those other (Aaronic) High priests to offer sacrifices daily ... he did this ONCE for all when he offered up himself.|
|Hebrews 9:||26: For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now ONCE in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.|
27: And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: 28: So Christ was ONCE offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
|Hebrews 10:||14: For by ONE offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.|
|Hebrews 9:||23: It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.|
|Hebrews 10:||5: Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:|
|Hebrews 10:||8: Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;|
|Hebrews 10:9||9 "Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second."|
Yeshua's blood represents his life. It means far more than the sacrifice which took his life.
As you read the following Bible texts, bear that vital truth in mind, that every reference to the Saviour's blood is in fact a reference to 'his life.' Sure, Yeshua's sacrifice was the act of giving up his life. However, his 'sacrificial death' doesn't cleans us. It is the faithful application of his life-giving blood to our souls that cleanses us from sin. In ancient days, it wasn't the animal's death that cleansed the sinner; it was the application or 'sprinkling of its blood' upon the sinner that sybolically cleansed him. Do not miss the subtle difference; because some modern translations (Good News Bible) often omit the word blood by replacing it with the phrase sacrificial death; These are mistranslations of the Real Word of God!.
|Acts 20:||28: Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with his own blood.|
|Ephesians 1:||7: In whom we have redemption through his blood... (Colossians 1:14)|
|1 Peter 1:||19: ...(Redeemed) with the precious blood of Christ.|
|1 John 1:||7:"...The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us."|
|Revelation 1:||5: "...Washed us from our sins in his own blood."|
|Revelation 7:||14: "...Washed their garments in the blood of the Lamb."|
|Hebrews 9:||13: "For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:|
14: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"
|Romans 5:||9: "Much more then, being now justified by his blood..."|
|Hebrews 13:||12: Wherefore Jesus also that he might sanctify the people with his own blood suffered without the gate.|
This text pictures the unclean person or leper who was obliged to abide outside the camp because of uncleanness. Messiah's blood sanctifies (purifies and sets apart) the unclean believer and qualifies him/her to re-enter the camp and the Father's presence.
|Ephesians 2:||13: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.|
|Colossians 1:||20: And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.|
The following passages will explain this fact more fully:
|Hebrews 13:||15: By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.|
16: But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."
|1 Peter 2:||5: Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ...|
9: 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.
|Romans 12:||1: I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.|
What do these texts mean? They mean that believers living in this generation do not need to offer animal sacrifices for redemption, pardon, cleansing or sanctification. The destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the missing records of Aaron's line and the sacrifice and blood of Jesus Christ all mean that the sacrificing of animals is not only obsolete, but illegal. Instead, new covenant believers are expected to surrender and offer the Almighty the following spiritual sacrifices:
These are the living sacrifices the Almighty is looking for: because they alone prove that our love for Him is genuine and our faith alive. And, strange as it may seem, it is only by the power of the Blood of Christ that we can ever hope to present such sacrifices and win the Almighty's favour. The blood of bulls, rams, goats, lambs and birds can never in a million years do this. Are you dear reader able to grasp the enormity of this truth?
|Romans 7:||12: Therefore the law is in itself holy, and the commandment is holy, just and good...|
14: We know that the law is spiritual...
Therefore in order to dispel any doubts the Jews may have held concerning his obedience, Paul joined four others in a Nazarite dedication service. This service is fully described in Numbers chapter 6.
The service involved:
|Acts 21:||24: ... that all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee - are nothing: but that thou thyself walkest orderly and keepest the law.|
Whilst considering these facts also remember that
Then came that incredible accusation that Paul was teaching disobedience to Yahweh's law! The Apostles were stunned, because they all knew that the charge was totally false. They knew that Paul had been explaining the deeper lessons of Yahweh's law; just as we are attempting to do in this booklet. And here he was being accused of heresy! What were they to do? How could they convince an extremely religious population that Paul was in fact an obedient Israelite? How could they do this without entering into endless explanations, arguments and possible uproar? What were they to do?
They found the answer in the Nazarite vow. Bear in mind that no law would be violated if Paul joined in this dedication service, for the Temple and the authorized priesthood were both present. Indeed much would be gained by a silent public display ( a bald head) of obedience. So Paul agreed to their plan and re-dedicated himself to God along with the others.
That is all we should read from this incident: That the Apostle Paul joined others in a dedication service to dispel any doubts that he was a law-breaker. In view of these facts, let no misguided Gentile offer unauthorized animal sacrifices elsewhere on earth. Without a Temple and without a Priesthood even the Jews do not presume to offer sacrifices: how much less should Gentiles who believe in the Saviour as the Lamb of God.
Also remember that Ezekiel's prophecy was written in about 592 BC, over 600 years before Christ's death on Calvary. In those chapters the prophet uses symbolic language to describe a far higher degree of cleansing and purification still to be achieved in a date future to him. In other words Ezekiel's prophecy pictured Yeshua the Messiah's sacrifice and its eternal effect. Prophetic language may often be low level, picturing bulls, goats, lambs and the literal sons of Zadok; but the realities to which those well known terms point is high-level. The use of symbolic terms such as the 'Passover Lamb,' 'circumcision,' 'washing,' 'unleavened bread' etc. all describe the spiritual realities Messiah's sacrifice would accomplish. These well-known terms help us better understand the concepts of sin, sacrifice, cleansing and holiness. That is the main reason why symbolic language is used in prophecy.
The prophecy of the Revelation also uses symbolic language: 'coloured horses,' 'bows,' 'swords,' 'scales,' 'sickles' and 'frogs' to describe messages of warning, war, famine, the end-time harvest and the work of evil spirits. In a similar way Ezekiel looked forward and in symbolic language described the future work of Christ (the Prince) in a spiritual Temple built on a high mountain. I quote from the Westminster Dictionary of the Bible page 178:
|Ezekiel 45:||17: And it shall be the PRINCE'S part to give burnt offerings, and meat offerings, in the Feasts, and in the new moons, and in the Sabbaths, in all solemnities of the house of Israel: He shall prepare the sin offering, and the meat offering, and the burnt offering, and the peace offerings, to make reconciliation for the house of Israel.|
The Prince is Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). It remains his responsibility to provide all the sacrifices and to make reconciliation for Israel. (Chapters 45 & 46). And that is exactly what the Saviour has been doing since his death and resurrection. By his death - with a single sacrifice - he met every sacrificial requirement mentioned by Ezekiel: and also began the work of building the eternal Temple on the high mountain of the new Zion. The sevenfold Passover sacrifices mentioned (7 bullocks, 7 rams and 7 goat kids, Eze.45:23) all picture the absolute perfection, totality and all-encompassing effect of Yeshua's life-blood and sacrifice. They do not mean that as the Passover lamb or kid Jesus will die over and over again seven times.
The seventh day Sabbath is:
Like the other primary laws in the Bible the Sabbath commandment will continue for all time, even on the new earth. (Isa.66:22-23) The weekly Sabbath is a foretaste of Yahweh's Rest, to which the Almighty is eagerly looking forward. In Hebrews chapter 4 the church is given a serious warning about failure to keep the seventh day Sabbath. We are reminded that many in ancient Israel failed to enter the Promised Land because they rejected the weekly Sabbath. In His anger Yahweh swore that they would die in the desert and not enter the Promised Land which is also a foretaste of His Rest.
|Hebrews 4:||1: Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.|
2: For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
3: For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
4: For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.
5: And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.
6: Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:
7: Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
8: For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.
9: There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
10: For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
11: Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
The chapter says that at some later date - a second time - Yahweh would again entreat His people to keep the weekly Sabbath as a foretaste of His Rest.
What does this amazing passage mean? It means this:
That is what Hebrews chapter 4 is saying. Study it again and again for yourself. Believe it or not Yahweh's second appeal to obey His Sabbath commandment is being made at this very moment to YOU. This appeal is part of Yahweh's second call to His followers to keep His Sabbath day. Beware of rejecting it.
Failure to keep the Creator's Sabbath day, which is the memorial of His creation, is a serious sin. The Everlasting Gospel (outlined in Rev.14:7) highlights two vital requirements:
Your task now is to find and worship with a group which teaches the whole
Gospel; a group which accepts Christ's all-encompassing sacrifice and which
also keeps the weekly and annual Sabbaths of the Almighty. Stewarton Bible
School's lesson entitled the The
Everlasting Gospel explains these two requirements.
For help in your search see Where can I find such a Group? and The Perfect Church
But we trust it will be different for you, as you put your faith in Yahweh the Almighty God of Israel and accept the wonderful things His Son's death made possible for you:
There is power, power, wonder-working power in the blood of the Lamb.
There is power, power, wonder-working power in the precious blood of the Lamb.
Would you be free from your passion and pride?
There's power in the blood, power in the blood.
Come for a cleansing to Calvary's tide?
There's wonderful power in the blood.
Would you be whiter, much whiter than snow?
There's power in the blood, power in the blood.
Sin stains are lost in its life-giving flow,
There's wonderful power in the blood.
Would you do service for Jesus your king?
There's power in the blood, power in the blood.
Would you live daily His praises to sing?
There's wonderful power in the blood.
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