Devo 8

“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine.  (He was priest of God Most High.)  And he blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth;  and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!’  And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.”                                                                        Genesis 14:18-20

Just who IS this Melchizedek? In Hebrews 4:14-8:13 we read that Jesus is a high priest in Melchizedek’s order and further more, that unlike the Levitical priesthood, Melchizedek’s order is eternal. According to Hebrews 7:22, this foreverness, “makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.”  In fact, in chapters 5,6, and 7 the eternality of this priestly order is mentioned 9 times!  It’s the power of Christ’s “indestructible life” that makes Him the perfect High Priest. 

While on earth, Jesus was “in every respect tempted as we are, yet without sin,” “beset with weakness,” and He suffered “with loud cries and tears.”  But now He has been “exalted above the heavens” and from there He makes intercession on our behalf!  Hebrews reminds us that the priesthood, the covenants, the tabernacle, the temple, all “serve as a copy and a shadow of the heavenly things.”  So when we’re reading the Old Testament and we come across these strange accounts of priests, and kings, and bread and wine, and tithes etc… it’s so important that we look deeply into them in order to get a clearer picture of who Christ is.

Now when I asked the smarter people in my life about who was this Melchizedek, I got several answers.  One dear, respected, learned man said emphatically that he was just a man.  One well-known Bible scholar said this was a Christophany, a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ.  And one beloved friend said it was neither.  I tend to lean toward the last option given the evidence presented in Hebrews 4-10 but that’s not the topic of this post.

Here’s the point that I think ALL of this week’s passages (Genesis 14, Psalms 121, 124, 146, Matthew 11:25-30) are driving at:  GOD MADE EVERYTHING!  The heavens.  The earth.  The sun.  The moon.  The seas and all that is in them.  He made Abraham.  He made you.  He made a host of angelic beings, including Satan.  He can make any kind of priest and priesthood He desires, Levitical or otherwise.  And the purpose of ALL these things is singular: TO BRING GLORY TO GOD MOST HIGH.  

Think of it friends. Jesus is our Great High Priest FOREVER.  According to Matthew 11:27, God the Father has given EVERYTHING over to Him, including the revelation of Himself.  And it isn’t the ones who think they can figure everything out on their own who get it.  It’s little children.  It’s those beset by weakness.  It’s foolish old moon worshippers like Abraham.  It’s the laboring and heavy laden to whom our High Priest offers His rest.  So come to Christ, the Priest of a new and better covenant. Take up His easy yoke.  “And you will find rest for your souls.”

Devo 7

“Then they said, ‘Come let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”  Genesis 11:4

What happened!?!?  How did we get from God’s glorious creation and His marvelous Sabbath rest to these people laboring to gain their own fame and prevent their own dispersion by building this tower to the heavens? Sin happened.  God creates this amazing universe, then creates man in His own image, and then man rebels against his Creator and ruins the whole creation.  In fact, man’s sin was so pervasive that God had to judge the world He had made from water by sending a destructive deluge of water, a world wide flood.  Everything that lived on the earth died in that flood, except for one family and the animals that they had brought onto the ark with them.  God mercifully provided a narrow way of escape in order for life to continue on earth and in order for His redemptive purposes to be fulfilled.  

This brief account of man’s widespread rebellion is a pivotal point in that redemption story.  The fact is, when God saved Noah and his family, even though Noah was a righteous man who walked with God, he was still a sinner and so was his wife,  and so were his sons and their wives and everyone who came after them.  The flood didn’t wipe out sin from the earth.  That’s not what the ark saved Noah’s family from.  In order to wipe out sin from the earth, God would have had to wipe Noah’s family from the earth, too.  And in order for Noah’s family to be rescued from sin, they would need a Savior, not an ark.

God had a plan to be worshipped by every tribe, of every nation, in every tongue.  But here were all these rebels plotting against Him, laboring to build their brick tower into the heavens God had breathed out with a word, NOT to bring glory to their Creator, but to make a name for their own selves.  

So God came down.  He looked at their pathetic pile of bricks.  And then He set about dividing them into tribe and nation and tongue.  He confused their language so that there were suddenly many, and He dispersed these rebels over the face of the whole earth.  You see there had to be many, in order for God to call one.  And through that one nation, all nations would be blessed.  But the people God chose to bring salvation through, just like Noah, needed salvation, too.  

In the book of Nehemiah we’re given this glimpse of people once again at work with their bricks.  But this time they’re not building a tower TO the heavens for their own namesake, they’re building a city FOR the God who made the heavens, for His own namesake.  

“You are the Lord, you alone.  You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is in it, the seas and all that is in them;  and you preserve all of them, and the host of heaven worships you.  You are the Lord, the God who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans.”  Nehemiah 9:6,7

What prompted this outburst of worship from these builders, so different from the haughty words of the Babel-ers? These people too, had gathered as one man.  But they had gathered to hear the word of the Lord.  And so Ezra had brought out the book.  The people stood, and listened and understood, and the people wept.  For God had come down on Mt. Sanai and had given them “right rules and true laws, good statutes and commandments.”  But they had sinned.  Ezra 9:6 says that their iniquities, like a great pile of bricks, “had mounted up to the heavens.”

Isaiah 14:12,13 describes the fall of the “Day Star, son of Dawn,” who had said in his heart “I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high.”  This was the sin of the Babel-ers, the sin of the Garden—remember Satan’s words, “You will be like God,”—the sin of the Israelites, and the sin or our own heart to this day.  The words of Obadiah 3,4 can be said of us all, 

“The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in your lofty dwelling, who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?’  Though you soar aloft like the eagle, though your nest is set among the stars, from there I will bring you down, declares the Lord.”

It’s what we all deserve, to be thrust down from our self-exalting thrones—Eve, the Babel-ers, the Israelites—all of us.  But listen!  Listen to Nehemiah 9:16-23.  

“But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love!”  

Even when we worship idols, God in His great mercy does not forsake.  Instead He gives.  He gives His good Spirit to instruct, manna to eat, water from a rock, He covers our nakedness, so that like the Israelites whom He multiplied like the stars of heaven, we lack nothing.  

Oh friend.  Bring out the book!  Hear the words of the Lord.  Listen and weep and mourn over your sin which has mounted to the heavens.  And then like the builders of Nehemiah’s day, “Stand up and bless the Lord your God from everlasting to everlasting.”  Say with every every tribe, of every nation, in every tongue, “Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.”  

Devo 6

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.  And on the seventh day God finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done.  So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all His work that He had done in creation.”                                            Genesis 2:1-3

Welcome back to the study everyone!  Hope you all enjoyed your break and were able to get caught up a bit.  Having just returned from two weeks immersed in the jaw-dropping autumnal wonders of Alaska, I am more convinced than ever that God indeed makes Himself known through the things that have been made so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:19,20).  And even more, the purpose of it all is to bring glory to His Son.  All of creation is but a shadow. The waters, the light, the plant life, the animals, the people, the days, the Sabbath— it’s all meant to point to the substance of everything, Jesus Christ!

Paul says in Colossians 2:16,17 “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.  These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.”  Jesus is the Living Water, the Light of the World, The Root of Jesse and the True Vine, the Bright Morning Star, the Lion of Judah and the Lamb of God, The Last Adam, the Beginning and the End.  And He IS our Sabbath Rest! 

That’s what makes passages like John 9 so shocking.  Jesus tells this blind man in verse 5, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  Then He spit on the ground, made some mud and anointed the blind man’s eyes.  The blind man went and washed the mud out and was healed!  He could see!  As he points out in verse 32, “Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind.” 

But do you know what the Pharisees had the audacity to say?  Verse 14 says that “it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes.”   So the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for He does not keep the Sabbath.”  In fact, they even went so far as calling Jesus a sinner!  Can you believe it?  They were calling the very One who created the Sabbath, the very Substance of the Sabbath Himself, a sinner for failing to keep it!  

Acts 13, gives us another account of an amazing Sabbath day miracle.  And it starts with another blind man.  Only this man was spiritually blind, so blind that he was trying to turn others away from the faith.  So verses 9-11 say, 

“Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, ‘You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord?  And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.”

When the proconsul saw what happened to that man, verse 12 says he believed because “he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.”  After that, Paul was in a synagogue on the Sabbath and preached an incredible sermon saying that Jesus was the fulfillment of the scriptures that were read every Sabbath.  This was such good news that the people begged to be told more on the next Sabbath.  Sure enough a week later the whole city had gathered “to hear the word of the Lord.”  

But then the Jews got jealous of all the Gentiles that had come and turned against Paul.  Remember how Jesus told the blind man that while He was in the world, He was the light of the World?  Well, when Jesus ascended back into heaven, He didn’t leave the world lightless.  So in verse 46, Paul tells all the angry Jews even though it was necessary that the word of God be spoken to them first, because they rejected it, the apostles were now turning to the Gentiles.  

“For so the Lord has commanded us saying, ‘I have made YOU a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ And when the Gentiles heard this they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.  And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region.”

And it is still spreading to this day!  That Sabbath day miracle is happening in the hearts of worshippers all over the world.  And some day Isaiah 66:23 says that God will be worshipped by everyone all the time.  The shadow of new moon celebrations and Sabbath day worship will finally be fulfilled.  

“From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the Lord.”