God is Truth. God has no capacity to lie. So when He swears by Himself, it's the Truth, and He keeps His covenant.
He keeps His promise. Jesus is enough to know God personally. It's the theme and the title of today's message here on Living in the Light with Bible teacher Anne Graham Lotz. Anne introduces today's teaching with a story from a very familiar pastime, baseball.
Here's Anne. I come from a long line of baseball fans. My grandfather had signed with the Baltimore Orioles, and then they let him out of his contract so he could go to medical school, and he went to the mission field in China, where he was for 25 years. And my father, when he was a teenager, wanted desperately to be a baseball player like Babe Ruth.
That was his goal in life. And one of my sons-in-law was a scholarship baseball player at the University of Baylor in Texas, and we love baseball. And when I say we, that's generic, because for myself, I think watching baseball is sort of like watching grass grow. Anyway, baseball is a great game, and, you know, there's a principle in baseball. Every inning, you have three opportunities as a batter to get up to bat and three strikes and you're out.
That's what I want to pull from that. Because in Genesis 1 to 11, we find the entire human race up to bat. They have an opportunity to have a personal relationship with God, and they strike out three times. The first time was in Genesis chapter 3. The entire world of humanity, represented by Adam and Eve, had opportunity to come into a right, personal relationship with God, and Adam and Eve said, God, no thank you.
We don't want it. They disobeyed. They rebelled against him. As a result, they were separated from him as strike one. Strike two is in Genesis 6. The entire world of humanity in Noah's day basically said, God, you know, we know you're offering us a right, personal relationship or we don't care about you.
In fact, we're so busy eating and drinking, marrying and giving and marriage, we don't even notice that you exist. And they didn't know anything until the flood swept them away. That was strike two. Then in chapter 11 of Genesis, you have strike three, when the entire world of humanity at the Tower of Babel basically defied God and said, God, we don't need you and we don't have to come to you in the way that you prescribe. We're just going to build our own Tower of Babel and we'll get to heaven all right and we'll get into your presence, but through our own works, our own religiosity, the system that we're building and, you know, the story where God confused their languages, scattered them all over the world, where they still are today, in their rebellion against their creator.
But that was strike three. And the entire human race was out of the game. They had totally lost their opportunity for a personal right relationship with God. They were totally hopeless, totally helpless to ever come back into his presence. That's why God reached down and picked up Abraham. And through Abraham's family, he began to work in Abraham's family so that he would provide a way for the entire world of humanity to come back into his presence, to have a personal right relationship with him.
I'm going to read you something from My Heart's Cry, something I wrote, but it's easier to read it to you than to tell it to you. But in olden days, entering into the presence of God would have been an unattainable privilege for a Gentile woman like myself. If I had stood on a desert sand dune that overlooked the Israelite camp in the wilderness following the exodus from Egypt, I would have seen a sea of tents that stretched out to the horizon of my vision. In the midst of the encampment, I would have noticed a much larger tent surrounded by a dazzling wall of linen that shimmered white in the scorching desert sun. If I had left my vantage point on the sand dune and slipped closer, I might have found a bystander who would have been willing to answer my questions. The most obvious question would have been, what is that big tent?
If there had been someone patient enough to explain, I expect he or she would have replied with eyes widened by surprise, don't you know? We're God's children, and that tent is the tabernacle where God has said to dwell in our midst. Can I go in?
I would have naively asked. Go in? Go inside the tabernacle? You must be out of your mind. It's obvious you're not an Israelite and you're a woman.
You could never go inside. Surely there must be some way I could enter. I would have persisted. I would like to draw near to God. I want a personal relationship with God. I long to be in his presence.
Well, let me tell you something, lady. The only way you could ever enter into the presence of God is if you were truly, totally born again. Looking over his shoulder, I might have inquired, what's inside those linen walls? On the other side of the walls are the altar, the laver, and the tabernacle itself would have been the blunt direct reply. And what's inside the tabernacle? The tabernacle is divided into two rooms that are separated by a heavy curtain or veil. I'm told that in the first room there's a lamp, a table with a loaf of bread on it, and an altar of incense. Beyond the veil in the second room is the most holy place of God's presence where the Ark of the Covenant rests. Oh, if only I had been born a man, I would have longingly cried. If only I had been born an Israelite, then I would go into the most holy place of God's presence five times a day.
Lady, you still don't get it, my informer would have said with a tone of exasperation. Israelite men cannot go inside the tabernacle either. Only the priests are allowed inside. And even the priests can't go inside the most holy place of God's presence. Only the high priest can go beyond the veil.
Oh, how I wish I was an Israelite man who was also the high priest. Then I would go into God's presence every day. In fact, I would just stay there. I would live in God's presence.
Perhaps with a sympathetic softening to his eyes, the bystander would reply gently but with finality. But the high priest himself can only enter within the veil once a year. And I would be turned away with no hope of ever entering into the most holy place of God's presence until Jesus came. Jesus is enough to take you and me right into God's presence. Through Jesus Christ we can have a personal, right relationship with the living God. Open your Bibles to Hebrews chapter 6. We're going to look at the fact that this personal relationship with God was promised in the Old Testament, but it's something that you and I possess today.
And let's look at the promises in the Old Testament. The relationship was promised in the Old Testament shadows and the writer to the Hebrews begins, and I'm beginning in chapter 6 verse 13, when the writer of the Hebrews begins talking about Abraham. And I'll just tell you the Abraham story briefly in that in Genesis chapter 12, God just leaned out of heaven and invaded Abraham's life.
He was living in Ur of the Chaldees, very impressive city. And God just leaned down and said, Abraham, I want you to belong to me. If you'll follow me in a life of faith, I'm going to pour out my blessing on you.
I'll bless you. I'll give you many descendants. I'll send a seed through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed through you. And Abraham packed up his bags, put one foot in front of the other, and he left Ur of the Chaldees and began a life of faith following God. And the one promise he was clinging to, according to Galatians, was that God promised that he would send a seed. And the writer of the Galatians says, not seeds, as in plural, like many descendants, but one seed.
I'm going to send through you a seed through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed. And Jesus said that Abraham has seen my day and rejoiced. That somehow by faith Abraham looked through the centuries and he could see something of the redeemer who would come to take away our sin and bring us back under a right relationship with God. And it was just a shadowy promise that was given in the Old Testament. In verse 13, when God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself saying, I will surely bless you and give you many descendants. And God swore by himself, he was swearing by his own character to Abraham that he would keep this promise.
And God's character, you know, God is truth. God has no capacity to lie. So when he swears by himself, it's the truth and he keeps his covenant, he keeps his promise. And down in verse 17, he said he promised because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the errors of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. And God swore by himself, meaning that the promise not only was backed by his character but backed by his own oath, meaning it was unalterable even to him.
He couldn't change his promise even if he wanted to. And not only was he promising Abraham many descendants but this one particular descendant, this seed, to whom the nations of the earth would be blessed. And it was a shadowy promise of Jesus to come who would lead us into a personal relationship with God. There were other promises, of course, in the Old Testament. I shared with you Genesis 3 verse 15.
Do you remember when Adam and Eve sinned? And they were separated from God and when God clothed them in the skins of those wild animals, he gave them a promise. And he said there will come a seed of a woman who will in essence take away your sin and bring you back into a right relationship with me. And then do you remember in Deuteronomy when God told Moses I'm going to raise up a deliverer like you who will not deliver my children from bondage to slavery but bondage to sin. It was a shadowy promise of Jesus to come. And you know Isaiah, when it says that God says I'm going to send someone by whose stripes you'll be healed. A wonderful counselor, almighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. And those were promises in the shadows of the Old Testament.
Looking forward to Jesus who would come who would take away our sin and bring us back into a right relationship with himself. And so we see this promise of a personal relationship with God in the shadows of the Old Testament. The promises that were given to Abraham and others and secondly the precedent that was set by Melchizedek.
And Melchizedek is an interesting person. Let me explain first of all that the priesthood in Israel was essential. Obedience was necessary but the priesthood was essential because when you sinned and we're all sinners and everybody sinned. And even though they were God's children and they had descended from Abraham they were sinners and they had to come to the temple and they had to sacrifice for their sin. And therefore they had to have a priest because priests were the only ones who could sacrifice. So the priests were absolutely essential and the purpose of the priesthood was to make the people right with God.
To bring them into God's presence by atoning for their sin. And so to say that Jesus is someone who could take away our sin and bring us into the presence of God. A Jew is going to say wait a minute that can't be because he's not a Levite. Only the Levites were priests. You had to be a descendant of Levi in order to be a priest and Jesus was a descendant of Judah. And so an Israelite would say Jesus can't be the Messiah.
He can't be someone who would bring us into a personal right relationship with God but because he's not a priest. He didn't descend from Levi. And so the writer of the Hebrews makes the most interesting argument by going back to Genesis 14.
And he pulls out a shadowy figure from history and let me tell you the story. Because Abraham was sitting under the trees at Hebron just minding his business. And these four kings swept in from the Babylonian area. And Canaan at that time was like a satellite nation to the Babylonian empire. And the Canaanites had refused to pay their taxes.
And they thought well Babylon's so far away you know they won't come and get us and so we can get by without paying our taxes. And the Babylonians didn't let them get by with it. And these four kings sweep in from the east and they sweep down through Canaan. They go through the Transjordan area. They sweep up through the Dead Sea area and they absolutely destroy everything in their path. They defeat all the kings of Canaan. They take all the plunder. They take all the loot and they're absolutely completely victorious. And they sweep through Sodom and Gomorrah and they go back up and they're going back to Babylon totally victorious. In fact history records that one of those kings possibly was Hammurabi.
And so they're totally victorious going back. Abraham's still sitting under Hebron minding his own business because he's just a sojourner you know pilgrim passing through. And what the kings want to do the Canaanites that's their business. And then somebody escapes who was captured by these kings. And he runs back and he says Abraham these kings have swept through and they've taken everything.
Yes I've heard that and Abraham they've taken your nephew a lot. And Abraham just came to attention and you know the kings could have everything else but they couldn't have his nephew. And Abraham called together the men in his household. He had 300 armed servants in his own household.
Think how big his household was. He had like a private militia. And then he called his two neighbors and they had a little private army and they combined and they went after these four kings who had been totally victorious. And Abraham and his two neighbors defeated these four kings from the east.
And they got all of the loot back all of the plunder back and they got Lot back. And so here's Abraham coming back to Sodom where Lot lives he's going to send Lot back to his home. Too bad Lot went but anyway he goes back to Sodom. And when they approach the king of Sodom slithers up out of the tar pits where he's been quivering in fear. And he mumbles under his breast something like well Abraham you can keep some of the plunder for yourself. I mean it was all Abraham's wasn't it? He had captured it. He had defeated the kings. But he tells the king of Sodom I don't want any of it. You can have it all except I want my two neighbors to have first pick.
They can have their share. And then out of the shadows steps this man named Melchizedek. And the Bible tells us that he is a priest of the most high God.
Now isn't that interesting? You would think if he didn't descend from Abraham he wouldn't even know God much less be a priest. But he's the king of Salem. That's the king of Jerusalem. And he's a priest of the most high God. And when he comes out of the shadows Abraham gives Melchizedek a tenth of all that plunder. In other words he tithes to Melchizedek. And then Melchizedek blesses Abraham and it's the greater person that blesses the lesser. And so Abraham is acknowledging Melchizedek's greatness by tithing to him and receiving his blessing. And then the writer of the Hebrews goes a step farther and says because Levi who is you know all the priests come from Levi. Because Levi was a descendant of Abraham in a sense he was in Abraham's body at that time. And Levi indirectly through Abraham was tithing to Melchizedek and acknowledging that he was greater. And so the writer of the Hebrews is saying there's been a precedent set for another priestly line other than that of the Levites.
And so let's pick up and maybe that will help you understand. Chapter 7 verse 1. This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of the most high God. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him. And Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First his name means king of righteousness then king of Salem means king of peace.
Without father or mother without genealogy without beginning of days or end of life. Now Melchizedek had all those things they're just not recorded in scripture so we don't know them. Like the son of God he remains a priest forever.
Drop down to verse 15. And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears. One who has become a priest not on the basis of regulation as to his ancestry.
But on the basis of the power of an indestructible life where it is declared. You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. So do you see in this shadowy precedent that was set by Melchizedek. A priest to whom Abraham gave tithes and accepted his blessing. There was a precedent set for another priesthood. Another priestly line. And the writer of the Hebrews is saying that Jesus is a priest after the order of Melchizedek.
Not a descendant of Levi but someone who is a priest based on his own character. And based on the power of his person. And we see in that shadowy figure Jesus who would be our high priest taking away our sin. Bringing us into a personal relationship with God.
And we see the promise of a personal relationship in the shadows. The promise given to Abraham. The precedent set by Melchizedek. Thirdly the perfection that was demanded by the law. And you know the law was given and it was summed up in the Ten Commandments. But it was given to the people and they were to keep the law. And the law demanded that you keep it perfectly.
And yet no one could. The law demanded perfection but the law was totally inadequate and unable to make the people perfect. And so the law really what it revealed was that the people couldn't keep it. The law was like a plum line.
It was like a yardstick just showing you that you don't measure up. That you fall short of the glory of God or you fall short of God's perfection. In chapter 7 verse 11 if perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood. For on the basis of it the law was given to the people. Why was there still need for another priest to come? And in verse 19 it says for the law made nothing perfect.
And you just think of all those sacrifices and all of those priests. All of them seeking to bring the people into a personal right relationship with God. And none of them were able to do it. And the law was totally incapable of making people perfect. And yet it demanded perfection. And so we see in the perfection that was demanded by the law.
We see a shadow of Jesus because chapter 7 verse 26. Such a high priest meets our need. One who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Jesus is perfect. And he met the demands of the law.
So even in the demands of the law, the perfection that the law demanded. We see a shadow of Jesus, don't we? Because he is the only one that perfectly kept the law from the moment he was born to the moment he stepped back into heaven.
He was perfect. And so when the perfection demanded by the law we see a shadow of Jesus. We see him in the prophecies. And I'm not going to turn to Jeremiah but it's quoted in chapter 8. And Jeremiah is prophesying that there desperately needs to be a new covenant or a new testament because the old covenant, the old testament wasn't working.
It wasn't bringing people into a personal right relationship with God. So in verse 8 of chapter 8, this is Jeremiah prophesying. The time is coming declares the Lord when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt because they did not remain faithful to my covenant and I turned away from them declares the Lord. This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor or a man his brother saying know the Lord because they will all know me from the least of them to the greatest for I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more. And in that prophecy hundreds of years before Christ we see the shadow of Jesus to come who would take away our sin bring us into a personal relationship with God that Jesus is enough in himself for you and me to know God. And so we see these shadows in the Old Testament that Jesus was just a promise.
The personal relationship they would offer us through faith in himself personal relationship with his father was just a promise in the Old Testament. We see that promise in the Old Testament shadows we see it in the Old Testament symbols and the symbols of service in the tabernacle. The priest's performance to sacrifice, to take away sin to bring the people into a personal right relationship with God never stopped. And there were hundreds of descendants of Levites and all of the descendants were divided up into twelve orders and two priests from each order could serve in the temple at one time.
So there were twenty-four priests on duty at any one time within the tabernacle or within the temple. And they were always sacrificing, sacrificing, trimming the wicks on the lamps changing the showbread, offering the incense, making the sacrifices. Their job never stopped. They never stopped. They never ceased.
There was work to be done twenty-four hours a day. Look at chapter seven verse twenty-seven. It says, unlike the other high priests he doesn't need to offer sacrifices day after day, speaking of Jesus. First for his own sins and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. Do you remember when Jesus was on the cross and as he gave his life as that ultimate sacrifice for our sin to take away our sin and usher us into a personal right relationship with God?
What did he shout out? It's finished. The job is done. There doesn't need to be one more sacrifice.
I've paid it all with my blood. And we see it in the symbol not only the priest's performance but in their position. The priests were never seated. Do you know in the tabernacle in the temple there was no bench? There was no chair because they never sat down. They were always working, always sacrificing, always doing something because their job was never finished.
They were never seated. Chapter eight verse one. The point of what we are saying is this. We do have such a high priest who sat down because he finished the work. There doesn't need to be any more sacrifices. And we see the symbols of service in the priest's performance, the priest's position, the priest's purpose.
All of the sacrificing, all of this effort, all of this work and they were never successful. Never able to bring people into a personal right relationship with God. Chapter eight verse seven says, For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another.
No place was wrong with it because even though they kept all of the law that they could and they made all of the sacrifices and they went through all the rituals and they went through all the ceremonies, none of it was enough to take away their sin and bring them into a right relationship with God. And chapter seven verse twenty-five says, Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him because he always lives to intercede for them. We have a high priest and we can see through the symbols of the service in the Old Testament, the priest's performance, the priest's position, the priest's purpose. We see Jesus, a high priest who was able to bring us into the presence of God having finished his Father's work, sitting down, having finished completely what his Father had set up as a requirement for us to come into his presence. Our sins are cleansed and forgiven and atoned for and we're made right with God through the blood of Jesus and in Jesus we can go right into God's presence.
Now here's Anne with this final word. What an astounding truth. What a life-changing message. Our sins are forgiven. And because he emptied himself of all but love, you can be filled. Because his body was broken, your life can be whole. Because his blood was shed, your sin can be forgiven.
Because he submitted to injustice, you can forgive. Because he finished his Father's work, your life has worth. Because he was forsaken, you will never be alone. Because he was buried, you can be raised. Because he was raised, you can be strong. Because he reached down to you, you don't have to work your way up to him. Because his promises are always true, you can have hope.
God has become your Redeemer through his Son, Jesus Christ. You can hear Living in the Light with Anne Graham Lotz weekly. And for ways to experience the God-filled life as you pursue your personal Bible study, go to AnneGrahamLotz.org. She'll help you get started with free resources you can use and share with others. Join us here each week for Living in the Light.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-03 09:50:47 / 2023-03-03 10:01:22 / 11