Thursday, October 29, 2009


roasted grain No grain offering that you bring to the LORD shall be made with leaven, for you shall burn no leaven nor any honey as a food offering to the LORD.

Leviticus 2:11

Most commentators take a mild stand on this prohibition for the grain offering. The reason: the text does not really say why. But I think that there is precedence based on symbol. The first has to do with history, the second with a generality.

Starting with Israel’s history, we know that the generation that first received the revelation of the levitical system was the same generamatzahtion of the Exodus from Egypt. The whole vivid reminder of the sacrificed lamb with blood on the doorposts… eating unleavened bread in haste…all of that was fresh in their minds. So offering a grain offering without leaven was consistent with thanking God for His deliverance.

Generally, leaven is also symbolic of the corruptive influence of sin. Jesus used the metaphor this way (Matthew 16:6-12), as did Paul (1 Corinthians 5:6-8, Galatians 5:9). It would make sense that God would set up these sacrifices in this way and that the people would see this prohibition as instructive.

So in the picture of the grain offering is a prohibition that reminds us that even the smallest of sins are destructive to our relationship with God. We should take holy living and obedience to God seriously.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Without blemish.

altar_of_burnt_offering If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the LORD.

Leviticus 1:3

I will spend the next five weeks or so working through Leviticus. I have to admit that it is the most difficult part of the Bible for me to study through. But it is worth the effort, because the holiness of God is one of the very clear themes. And even though the responsibilities of the Levitical system are no longer a requirement since Christ’s final atonement, they are instructive on the nature of God, and the nature of our commitment to Him.

There were a wide variety of offerings that were part of the worship of God by Israel, and it is important not to confuse them when reading this book. The ESV Study Bible has this excellent chart to keep them in perspective (click on the table for a larger version).

5 major offerings

The main requirement for the burnt offering was that it be a male from the flock “without blemish”. God was not going to take the second best, or something that no one else would have been satisfied with as a gift. God wanted the best. And He is owed that in our worship. So many times I am tempted to give Him my leftovers and blemishes today. One reason that I feel compelled to cultivate the habit of getting into His Word within the first hour of my rising in the morning is that for me, that is the most unblemished part of my day. I am at my most alert (most mornings), most optimistic, and most receptive. It is also the quietest part of my day because I have made the effort to wake up a good hour before the rest of my family. And the dark early morning has become the time that I offer in worship to God. I do not regret it.

Lord, Here I am at this unblemished time. Please show me the importance of offering to You the best that I have. In the thick of my busy, insane schedule and demanding ministry I am often tempted to just find the leftovers for You. I know that is not what is best for us. Train me to be holy in my time and in my commitment. I want Your to get the best, the all, the offering of this life. Amen.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

From enemy to worshipper.

mount of olives Then everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths.

Zechariah 14:16

The dramatic scene at the end of Zechariah’s prophecies has Jerusalem taken from the scorn of the world to the center of the world’s religious life. The prophet foretells of a future siege and destruction of the city that is unparalleled. Half the inhabitants are forcefully relocated from the city as it is plundered and the other half shall flee into a mountain stronghold to be protected by God. In the midst of what looks like the end for the Jewish nation, God intervenes to establish Himself as the king of all the earth.

The reality that I know is being portrayed is of the rulership of Jesus as King of Kings and Messiah. He arrives during this time, setting foot on the Mount of Olives and splitting it in two. The topography of the Holy Land is completely changed so that the city of Jerusalem rises over a vast plain. And the nations acknowledge God and come to the new world capital to worship Him.

Before this happens though, God destroys those final armies that were arrayed against Jerusalem. The description of their demise reads like something out of Raiders of the Lost Ark (Zechariah 14:12-15). Israel is exalted, God’s enemies are punished, and those nations that survive this turn to Him. And for an age, the world experiences God’s original plan, with Israel as a nation that draws the world to Him.

God’s desire is to turn His enemies into His worshippers. This is not some despotic depiction. When we synthesize this passage with other Old Testament prophecies, it is very clear that God cares about the world. He wants the nations to see His glory.

Monday, October 26, 2009

There is a Fountain Filled with Blood

old hymnal On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.

Zechariah 13:1

When a large religious service was being conducted at the Golden Gate Exposition in San Francisco (1939-1940), many people quickly became aware that the minister delivering the main address was not thoroughly orthodox. Although a gifted speaker, he began to direct most of his eloquence against the power of the blood of Christ.

Ruth E. Marsden (a hymnologist from the 1950’s) relates that when his fluent oratory ended, a timid, elderly lady stood up in the midst of the crowd and softly began to sing a great hymn by William Cowper as a touching rebuttal to the modernist’s remarks.

A hush fell over the assembly as they heard those faint but familiar words: “There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins, and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.”

Before she could begin the second stanza, approximately a hundred people rose to join her.

By the time she reached the third verse, nearly a thousand Christians all over the audience were singing that blessed song of faith.

The triumphant, thrilling strains rang out loud and clear: “Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose its power, ’til all the ransomed church of God be saved to sin no more.”


There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood

There is a fountain filled with blood

Drawn from Emmanuel's veins;

And sinners, plunged beneath that blood,

Lose all their guilty stains.

Lose all their guilty stains.

Lose all their guilty stains.

And sinners, plunged beneath that blood,

The dying thief rejoiced to see

That fountain in his day;

And there may I, though vile as he

Wash all my sins away,

Wash all my sins away,

And there may I, though vile as he

Wash all my sins away.

Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood

Shall never lose its power,

'Til all the ransomed Church of God

Be saved, to sin no more,

Be saved, to sin no more,

'Til all the ransomed Church of God

Be saved, to sin no more.

And since, by faith, I saw the stream

Thy flowing wounds supply,

Redeeming love has been my theme,

And shall be 'til I die.

And shall be 'til I die.

Redeeming love has been my theme,

And shall be 'til I die.

from 200 Amazing Hymn Stories

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Messiah Accepted.

jesus crucified

And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.

Zechariah 12:10

My observation from chapter 11 of this study in Zechariah was that the prophecy made it clear that the Messiah would experience rejection in Jerusalem. And of course, that is exactly what Jesus foretold and experienced. But chapter 12 shows us that even though He is struck down, He is eventually accepted by the inhabitants of Jerusalem. It is God’s doing. God pours out His Spirit of grace and the nation cries out for mercy. And when they see “him whom they have pierced” (identified in the first person as God in this context), they will respond with heartfelt mourning and repentance.

The acceptance of Jesus is gradual in this day and age. It comes by exposure to the gospel, one life at a time. It comes by God’s gracious calling and the convicting work of the Spirit in those hearts that come to Him. God knows what He is doing. And Jews and Gentiles alike are finding a Messiah and a Savior in Jesus.

Jesus on Cross I believe this passage describes a future day when the nation of Israel will suffer its most difficult times. The response at the end of those times will be to turn to Messiah Jesus at His return. He is the one “whom they have pierced” (see John 19:31-37 where those who pierced Jesus’ side were Roman soldiers acting at the request of the Jewish authorities. Really we all are complicit). And the nation will come to Him as one nation, accepting the Messiah Who is the Savior of the world.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

malignant ministry as the call of God.

destruction of the temple

Thus said the LORD my God: "Become shepherd of the flock doomed to slaughter.”

Zechariah 11:4

This chapter is a difficult one to understand. There are metaphors and symbols within a large extended parable. Zechariah is asked to shepherd some stubborn sheep in the midst of some careless, foolish fellow-shepherds. There is no literal event being talked about. It is very hard to draw lines of interpretation from this complicated parable. Interpreters are all over the board on what is going on in this passage. But one thing is clear: God may call good people to work in difficult, dangerous, even unfruitful fields of ministry. Zechariah experiences no “success” in this endeavor, at least in terms of the response of the “sheep” and the “shepherds”. Both go bad and leave him with nothing but anger and anguish at his involvement with them (Zechariah 11:8-9). About fifteen years ago, I know I was there brutally for about six months. I was not a good guy at that time. It ain’t any fun!

I think that in terms of staying within the broader context of the book of Zechariah, it is good to see the prophet “acting out” the role of the Messiah and his eventual rejection. This is the interpretation that John MacArthur proposes for this chapter, and as I look at it further, it fits. The Messiah’s rejection is part of Old Testament prophecy (Daniel 9:26-27). And this does fit the way in which Jesus Himself predicted His rejection and the subsequent destruction that would befall Jerusalem at the destruction of the temple (Matthew 24:1-2). The final puzzle piece that fits this is the whole thirty pieces of silver description here (Zechariah 11:12). The New Testament gospel writers pick up on this as the blood price for Jesus with the prophetic details emphasized (Matthew 26:14-16).

Jesus would be called to difficult ministry. And he would ultimately be rejected by those to whom He came. The Roman authorities that carried out His execution at the desire of those shepherds in Israel that had rejected Him would later complete their oppressive rule by destroying Jerusalem and the temple worship a generation after Jesus’ death and resurrection. And Zechariah acted out the key points in this drama as the exiles returned from Babylon centuries before these events.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

An overwhelming reason to respect Israel.


I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph. I will bring them back because I have compassion on them, and they shall be as though I had not rejected them, for I am the LORD their God and I will answer them.

Zechariah 10:6

Politics aside, there is a spiritual reason for protecting and supporting the interests of the Jewish people, particularly the state of Israel. What they have become is God’s purpose and design. When He regathered them to the Promised Land after the exile, He made it clear that this was all His work, and it would not fail. Read all 12 verses of this chapter carefully. God means to do something special and permanent in Israel (Zechariah 10:1-12). Respect God. Respect His work. Respect Israel.

I know that Israel and the Middle East conflicts radiating from there have been a political hotspot for generations now. That is probably as it should be. The place has been a political and religious volcano for millennia. That is not going to stop by the work of any kind of human diplomacy. God is strengthening and building the place. His plan is to jam more people in there than the land can hold. Really (Zechariah 10:10). It is only going to get more volatile.

I am disheartened when politicians diss Israel. I feel like they are striking at the root of the Abrahamic Covenant, where God said that He would curse those who curse Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 12:3). I will choose to respect and honor Israel in my thinking. I know God is doing something with His people Israel still. Romans 9 – 11 make it clear that although the perspective has changed with the work of the church, God is still clearly working among the Jews for His glory and purposes. Jesus is the Messiah of the Jews, and the Savior of the world. He is a shared Savior to all who will acknowledge Him. Proclaiming the Messiah, praying for the peace of Jerusalem, and respecting Israel are important when we look at biblical “Israelology”.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

The Humble King

triumphal entry Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Zechariah 9:9

Jesus fulfilled this prophecy (Matthew 21:1-5) when He entered Jerusalem on the week of His passion. Zechariah is one of the most Messianic of the Old Testament prophets, containing prophecies that are relevant to the first advent and to the future coming of Christ. It is a fascinating book for this reason alone.

What is remarkable in this passage is the humility of the deliverer who rides into Jerusalem. The city of Jerusalem has been conquered numerous times. It is an ancient city filled with a history of war and subjugation. But Jesus is pictured differently. He is not pictured as a war general on a tall stallion parading His troops in a spectacle of captured prisoners. Instead, He is the humble, righteous king who brings salvation with him as He is carried alone through the streets of Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt. The focus is on the salvation He brings in His person.

Other war generals have always focused on military deeds, but Jesus is seen as salvific in person, not just in command of an army or human power. There is no need for a show of power and troops. He is the power. He brings salvation in Himself. This humble king was different than any other king who ever lived. And He came into Jerusalem to give His life for the world. I can rejoice in my salvation today because Jesus rode triumphantly into the Holy City so long ago knowing that Calvary was His objective. And there, He would bring about the greatest victory against the worst foe of mankind. For in defeating sin and death, He made His believers more than conquerors through Him Who loved us!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

God’s ongoing love for His people

star of david Thus says the LORD of hosts: behold, I will save my people from the east country and from the west country, and I will bring them to dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness.

Zechariah 8:7-8

This promise began to be fulfilled with the return of the Jews from Babylon and the slow resettling of Jerusalem. But God saw something much bigger than they were experiencing. He saw a city that was bustling with activity… a true metropolis filled with Jews who feared and followed Him. The Jerusalem of Zechariah and his contemporaries was more like a small frontier town. It had not fully re-established itself. That is why this promise came.

Of course, by the time of Jesus, Jerusalem was again an urban crossroads. It was so strategic that the Romans stationed troops there and administered its affairs. After Christ’s ascension, during the Feast of Pentecost, it was a world crossroads so cosmopolitan that the apostles were able to reach a cross-section of the entire Roman World and Near East with just one sermon in Acts 2. And despite two millennia of ups and downs, wars, occupations, and day-to-day life, Jerusalem is still at the center of attention for many in my world. It is a city holy to three major world religions. And it is still loved by God.

I pray for the peace of Jerusalem. The scriptures call us to do so. But I know that one day the Prince of Peace will fully rule from there. It remains a holy city, though with all the conflict and bombing, I’ll hold off my visit until Jesus takes over (see Daniel 7:13-14; Revelation 20:4).  Until then, and I mean this, you gotta love the Jews! God does!

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Diamond-hard hearts

heart diamond But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear. They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the LORD of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great anger came from the LORD of hosts.

Zechariah 7:11-12

This section of the prophet Zechariah is a review of the history of Judah that led the nation into the seventy years of captivity in Babylon. It begins with request of the people of Bethel. They simply wanted to know if it was proper to observe the month of fasting that had become customary among the Jews to mourn their captivity in Babylon. Now that they were back in the land, they wondered what to do.

The answer is enigmatic. God replies first with a set of questions about priorities. He asks if the fasts were indeed for “Him” (Zechariah 7:5). He assumes that the taking of food and drink was for their own nourishment (Zechariah 7:6). He reminds them to look to the words of the prophets that came before the captivity (Zechariah 7:7).

Then God uses the occasion of this question to remind everyone what led to the Babylonian captivity. He let them know that the expectations for His people then had not changed. What God wanted for Israeli society then was the same expectation. They should be just, caring, kind, merciful, helpful to the poor and the orphaned, and hospitable to the stranger and the poor. (Zechariah 9-10). The generation that went into the exile had failed to do this.

The language used to describe that generation makes it clear that they deliberately chose to disobey God in these matters. They turned a stubborn shoulder. They covered their ears. It was not just a matter of negligence, but rather disobedience that dishonored God in the matter. And they knew what they were doing. They knew God had sent His command through the prophets. But they hardened their hearts to diamond density. That is what led to their judgment.

The message from this warning is to guard the heart. It is to maintain a tender willingness to hear and respond to God’s Word. It is to turn from selfish concerns and care for needs around us. This is what cultivates God’s desires for our hearts.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

God often works with “if’s”.

if "And those who are far off shall come and help to build the temple of the LORD. And you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. And this shall come to pass, if you will diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God."

Zechariah 6:15

This word of prophecy from Zechariah to the returning exiles in Jerusalem contained a certainty and a contingency. The certainty was that further help was coming in the temple project. You can read all about it in detail in the contemporary account found in the book of Ezra. God was re-gathering the remnant of His people. Jerusalem was once again becoming repopulated with returning Jews from Babylon. And the temple would be rebuilt. God would be glorified and His Word confirmed by these events.

But this was all contingent on obedience. And the returned exiles did struggle to do this. You can read all about that in another contemporary of Zechariah, the prophet Haggai, who had to compel the Jews to finish the work they had started. God would bring the blessings of His worship to His people if they would obey Him in the re-building of the temple. Diligent obedience and hard work would have to come on their part for the blessing to be truly known to the nation.

Obedience to the Lord is often required for us to know His full blessing. To the believer in Jesus, sanctification involves living out what God has given us in Christ. We are declared holy, but we must learn to make holy choices if we are to truly know God and please Him. God’s blessing is still offered, but the “if” of our own holy choices and obedience often must precede the “then” of God’s blessing and promise to us.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Extraordinary Visions

Then the angel who talked with me came forward and said to me, "Lift your eyes and see what this is that is going out."

Zechariah 5:5

There are a series of visions in this book that get increasingly stranger as the book progresses. Chapter five contains the weirdest visions. The second one (Zechariah 5:5-11) of a woman named “Wickedness” who is carried off to Babylon by stork-winged women messengers clearly typifies the purifying effect of the Captivity on the Jewish nation. Bizarre but meaningful when we consider that Zechariah was preparing the Jews for their return to Jerusalem. The first vision of a flying open scroll as large as a billboard (Zechariah 5:1-4) is really odd. It is meant to show that the curse of the Law is what led to the captivity in the first place. That part of the way God dealt with covenant breakers was through the judgment of the captivity. It sets the scene for explaining the second vision.

In all there are 8 visions in the book. They explain why Israel would return to the land, how God would purify His people again, and what the leadership of Jerusalem was expected to do. The following chart in the ESV Study Bible helps place all the visions in Zechariah into perspective (click on it for large readable version):

Zech visions

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Not by might or power

 custom-offshore-racing Then he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts”

Zechariah 4:6

I am a man.

I am impressed with strength.

I’d put me some serious muscle to a task

and we’ll get ‘er done!

Build a machine

or a system, juice it up

with all the horsepower we can add

and we’ll have some fun.

Might and power have a place…

just not always in God’s work.

I worship God,

Who chose the weak to confound the strong.

He chose the foolish to outfox the smart.

His Spirit is the real story..

And with His Spirit

at work in the world, a power comes

with quiet energy, displays of wonder, mysterious ways

bring God glory.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Deliverer is coming.

up a tree Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch.

Zechariah 3:8

The reality of this verse is that God is promising the exiles who are returning to Jerusalem that a great Deliverer is coming. This is a Messianic promise. It calls the Messiah “the Branch”, hearkening back to Jeremiah’s pre-exilic words of prophecy. And the Deliverer comes as a servant to the nation.

The scene in which this promise is made reads like the kind of thing recorded in the epic poetry of Job. Joshua (or Yeshua – Greek: Jesus) is the high priest who has returned to Jerusalem to re-institute temple worship. (Zechariah 3:1-3) We also read about him in Ezra and Nehemiah. In this vision, Zechariah sees the priest standing before the angel of the Lord, with Satan standing to the right of him, accusing him before the Lord. And God rebukes the devil. It seems that Satan is wanting to accuse Joshua of being unfit to be a priest. He is clothed in filthy garments. And God just takes care of that. (Zechariah 3:4-5)

The rest of chapter three is an address to the high priest in which God assures him and comforts him.(Zechariah 3:6-7) He promises that if Joshua will walk in His ways, God will bless the work of his priesthood. And then God re-affirms the promise to bring His servant, the Branch to the nation. The faithful nation, restored to its land, worshipping the Lord, would eventually see the Messiah come. This is still hundreds of years away, but to Joshua the high priest is given the promise of Jesus, the Great High Priest. And after that promise, God paints a beautiful picture of peace under the rule of Branch (Zechariah 3:9-10)

To the first post-exilic high priest that also bore Jesus’ own name, God gave the promise of the Messiah. He affirmed this priest with a promise. He removed the iniquity of that priest to show that God could use someone for His purposes. He assured the nation of His unfailing love and power to forgive. And He promised a future… one that I know today, yet still anticipate in its completion.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Exclusivity with a global impact.


And many nations shall join themselves to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people. And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you.

Zechariah 2:11

This is one of the Old Testament passages that shows the outcome that God desired with Israel. It was nothing short of reaching the world for Him. He wanted Israel to be “the light to the gentiles” that He had always called her to be. And in this prophetic call to the exiles in Babylon, God promises to rebuild Jerusalem into such a large city that the population would overflow the walls. It is obvious that God wanted the worship of Himself in Jerusalem to be a magnet to the peoples of the earth.

What is interesting is that God fully expected that the gentiles would be drawn to Israel to worship Him, and would enter into the same type of exclusive relationship with Him that Israel enjoyed. This sheds light into Jesus’ harsh criticisms of the leaders of Israel in His day. They had so locked down Judaism that it was hard to truly proselytize because gentiles were hated and despised. Jesus threw open the doors again. By decrying and destroying the threat of Pharisaical prejudice, He was living the heart for the world that is truly God the Father’s will for everyone. Gentiles could come to God. God would make them His people just like the Jews were His people.

God’s heart has always been that the nations would rejoice at His goodness. And the church is also a people uniquely called by Him to the world. Jesus freed the good news by demanding that His followers take the message to the world. And we dare not create a church that is so tight in our sinfully exclusive personal or political views that we cannot reach the world around us. It starts with all people around us and the gospel is meant to make a global impact. That is why even today churches and individuals should support missions to all peoples of the earth. They need to hear the gospel. They need to be able to read God’s Word. They need to be discipled in the life of following Jesus. And they will know that God is in their midst and that they are His people.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Repent, return and be renewed

repent Therefore say to them, Thus declares the LORD of hosts: Return to me, says the LORD of hosts, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts.

Zechariah 1:3

God is always ready to receive the repentant sinner. There is never a time where He says, “Sorry, you have turned back to me, but I am done.” His grace always extends the offer of forgiveness to the repentant one. He is not limited in its expression. He will not receive an unrepentant sinner who challenges Him. But He will receive one who humbles himself to God.

This offer in Zechariah was extended to the exiles in Babylon. God was preparing to bring Israel’s remnant back to their land. Jerusalem would be repopulated. The captivity would end. But it had to start with a people who were willing to come to Him. Hence this call for repentance was a necessary part of the message of renewal. Nothing new was going to come to Israel unless they turned from sin, turned to God, and let God turn them around.

God loves to change hearts. That much I know is the story of my life. But I also know that my heart does at times resist this. That is why His Word still carries prophetic calls such as this one to me. I need to hear the cry of the prophet in the darkest allys of my heart, shaking me to the fear of the Lord and calling me to return to Him in repentance of my sin. It is that cry that brings me back to new life and renewed relationship with my Lord.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

sanctification: the best defense

d fence But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.

Jude 20-21

The command here is straightforward: keep yourselves in the love of God. This is Jude’s way of talking about the personal responsibility to live holy lives. The false teachers he is combating will have none of that. They indulge in sexual immorality (Jude 7), they blaspheme doctrine they do not understand (Jude 10), and they are ultimately not holy but ungodly and destined for God’s justice as a result (Jude 15). The book ends with a call for Christians to defend against apostasy by guarding the way they live their lives. It is the best way to combat false doctrine and practice.

There are three things we do to keep ourselves in the love of God. The first is to build ourselves up in our most holy faith. I believe it is a call to knowing doctrine AND the sanctifying work that true doctrinal commitments bring to us. That is why it is called a holy faith. It is not purely about simple propositions, statements of fact, or doctrinal vocabulary. It is about the truth of biblical teaching changing us into the holy, different, and called out people that God has always wanted for His glory. The second thing we do is called “praying in the Holy Spirit.” Nothing mystical here either… this is just prayer that stems from a relationship with God that can know and follow the promptings of His Spirit. That only really comes as we understand and follow the Word of God. The first thus is necessary to understand the second. The final piece is also important. We must be waiting for the mercy of Jesus. I believe that is an understanding that our growth in holy living is a process that is not complete UNTIL WE MEET JESUS! We are saved when we come to Christ, we are being saved by Him now, and we will be saved forever in His presence in eternity. I am just not all the way there yet. But I know my journey is headed to His destination.

One final thing to point out: we are called to keep ourselves, but God also does the keeping. Jude has already pointed this out (Jude 1 says we are beloved in God and kept for Jesus Christ). The book ends with a reminder and a prayer to the One who is “able to keep you from stumbling and present you blameless before the presence of his glory” (Jude 24). Sanctification is God’s big work in saving me and keeping me. It is my lifestyle in living like the man He has made me to be.