How do you read the Bible? Is the Bible just a book that teaches us how we are to live, or is it more than that? The Bible is God’s story of salvation. It makes all the difference in the world how we read the Scriptures.
For instance, when we read in the Scriptures that God used Peter and John to heal the lame man (Acts 3), what should be our response? The answer all depends on whether a person views the Bible as a book of morals, or God’s story of salvation. If we view it as a moral book, then the result will be a desire for us to find a lame man and ask God to work through us like He worked through Peter and John; besides, “God is no respecter of persons.” Yet, if we view the Bible as God’s story, then the result will be a deeper appreciation and devotion in us toward the God who heals those who cannot heal themselves. This lame man was healed by the lamb who takes away the sins of the world.
If we are reading the Bible as God’s salvation story, then when we read about a leper or a lame man, it should automatically remind us of our own condition. As sons of Adam, we are spiritual lepers. We cannot heal ourselves. We were born sinners. When we see the lame, we should remember that we have no ability to come to God unless He draws us.
In 2 Samuel 9, we are introduced to a lame man by the name of Mephibosheth. He lived far from the king. He was a descendant of Saul, so he was a natural enemy of the king. He had no intention of ever seeking out the king. He was a rejected refugee. Mephibosheth was as good as dead. He hid from the king and was not part of the king’s family. But the king called Mephibosheth and gave him life. He gave him an inheritance and adopted him. He made him a son with all rights and privileges.
A moral book? Then, we should praise God for David and try to imitate king David.
A book about God’s salvation history? Then we stand in awe of how our King humbled Himself and came to earth to show us mercy. He gave us new life, an inheritance, and the adoption of sons. This story should evoke gratitude for the wisdom and kindness of our God – The Lamb of God came to earth to heal lame.
“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen
There are seven festivals instituted by God for the Israelites. These festivals were shadows or types of Christ. You can find a detailed description in Leviticus 23. Males were required to travel to the temple in Jerusalem to celebrate three out of the seven – The Feast of Unleavened Bread, The Feast of Weeks and The Feast of Booths. The one that’s probably most unfamiliar to us is The Feast of Booths. They had to hold a holy convocation for the first day, and a holy convocation for the eighth day. No ordinary work was to be done. You can read about all the details of this festival in Leviticus 23:33-44. The point I want to emphasize here is what the Israelites were suppose to remember during this time – that the people of “Israel dwell in booths when I (The Lord) brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (verse 43).
The children of Israel had to leave the ‘comforts’ of their homes and live in these ‘booths’ for seven days. This helped remind them that when God brought them out of Egypt, they had nothing but His presence. If they had His presence, then they needed nothing else to survive. These booths, or ‘tabernacles,’ were reminders, but they also pointed forward. They were to look forward to the Messiah who would be ‘God with them.’ The tabernacle stood as a visible witness that salvation was God’s way or no way. It typified the Incarnation of Christ. The tabernacle was also a visible reminder that God’s presence – the most holy place, was off limits; it was only accessible by a representative. The curtain dashed all of our hopes, and kept us out of the presence of God.
But the greatest miracle the world has ever experienced happened over 2000 years ago – Jesus was born.
John said that Jesus dwelt (tabernacled) among us (John 1:14). Jesus said that He was the only way to the Father – there is no other name whereby men can be saved. Jesus became our hope that entered into the inner place behind the curtain (Hebrews 6:19).
Why do we need to participate in a shadow? We don’t need to go back to darkness and build booths. Jesus said He was the light of the world. A shadow disappears when the sunlight is directly overhead. When the true Light of the world came, He dispelled the shadows. Those festivals were not the real thing, they only pointed to the real thing. Only a groundhog is foolish enough to believe that a shadow is a real thing… Are you going to be Christ-follower, or a groundhog?
Brian L. Spivey
Jesus and Goats?
What is the Book of Leviticus All About Anyway? Part III
When you think of a goat, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?
For some people, goats conjure up images of curry and feasting. Others may think of farms and sacrifice; or stubbornness and gluttony may come to mind. If you are familiar with the deep-seated things of Satan, then ‘riding the goat’ may bring back fond fraternal feelings. If you’re the type of person who associates goats with the words of Jesus, then you certainly want to be named among the sheep and NOT the goats. But are we ever biblically justified to associate Jesus Himself with goats?
In the 16th chapter of Leviticus, Moses writes about how Aaron the priest is to enter the holy place with a bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. Aaron had to offer the bull as a sin offering for himself and for his house. But Aaron was also commanded to take two goats. The first goat was to be killed for the people and he had to sprinkle its blood over the mercy seat – this was to make atonement for the people. Aaron had to lay both hands on the second goat and confess all the iniquities, transgressions and sins of the people. The goat was sent into the wilderness. The Bible declared, “The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area.”
Again, lets not get lost in the minutia of the rituals. Remember that in many ways, the book of Leviticus points to Jesus. We can biblically justify associating Jesus with these goats in Leviticus. Both goats point to Him. Like the first goat, He died on the cross for our sins and the prophet Isaiah said that He bore our grief and He was crushed for our iniquities. His blood was applied to the mercy seat of God and we have been set free from the penalty of sin. Like the second goat, He has removed our transgressions far from us. BUT unlike those priests with his natural goats, who had to do this ONCE every year, He did this ONCE AND FOR ALL! Praise God!
Next time you read Leviticus, keep Jesus in the forefront of your mind.
Brian L. Spivey
Most people I know who have tried to read the Bible from cover to cover started from the beginning. They get through Genesis, and enjoy most of the Exodus, but lose interest when they get to the book of Leviticus. What is the book all about anyway? It can be summed up in one word – worship.
In the 9th chapter of Leviticus, we read that Moses and Aaron kept the word that God commanded about how to worship Him. “Aaron lifted up his hands towards the people and blessed them… and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. And the fire came out… and consumed the burnt offering” (Verses 22, 24). In the next chapter, the fire of the Lord came from heaven again, but this time, instead of consuming the burnt offering, it consumed Nadab and Abihu – Aaron’s sons. Nadab and Abihu did not keep God’s Word. What can we conclude about the Lord from this passage?
If this was an isolated event in Scripture, than any conclusion drawn from Leviticus 9 could be dismissed as speculative at best. But we see throughout Scripture, that God is serious about how He is to be worshipped. Those who did not keep God’s word were dealt with harshly – King Saul, Uzzah, Ananias and Sapphira. And who had the last word about worship and keeping God’s Word? Jesus did.
The apostle John described Jesus as the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire. This Holy One told the individuals in the church at Philadelphia that because some have kept His Word, He intended to make them a pillar in the temple of God. Jesus ends the ultimate worship book with these words, “Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book” (Revelation 22:7).
Those of you who have tried to read the Bible from cover to cover, and were arrested by the content in the book of Leviticus, please go back and try again. Use this key to unlock the book: God determines what is holy and unholy. He determines what is acceptable and what is an abomination. And don’t forget, the major theme of Leviticus is worship.
Brian L. Spivey
I did not study Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians for the first fifteen years of my Christian life. Of course I used some of the classic proof text passages like 4:17, to prove the rapture of the church; 5:23, to prove that man is made of three parts; and the second chapter of 2 Thessalonians to try and figure out the identity of the Man of lawlessness. Oh, if I knew then what I know now, I would have devoured the contents of this book and spent the rest of my years marveling at how the Holy Spirit used the contents to establish my faith upon the Rock of Christ!
The apostle Paul came to the city of Thessalonica after he was beaten at Philippi. He taught for three Sabbaths and then started preaching to the Gentiles. It was recorded that he was there for at least three weeks and then the leaders of that city ran him out of town. Paul left some brand new believers in Thessalonica. These believers were newly born – infants in the faith. So what did Paul teach them? Did he expound on man being a tri-part being? Did he spend a huge amount of text on the man of lawlessness? No. Paul began his letter with the doctrine of election (v. 4). These new believers were suffering persecution, and Paul wanted to reassure them that suffering was an essential part of the Christian life. He informed them that though they were still infants in the faith, God had used their suffering as an example of true faith. They had received the Holy Spirit and proof of that gift was perseverance in the midst of suffering. He referred to the theme of comfort at least twelve times in these two short letters. He wanted those infants to know that God called them for salvation (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14) and they could find comfort in the hope of Christ’s return.
Though they were doing well, these infants could have gotten discouraged by all that suffering, so Paul admonishes them not to grow weary of doing good (2 T 3:14).
If I would have focused the first fifteen years of my Christian walk on understanding these truths, instead of trying to avoid negative confessions, claiming God’s promises so that I could get rich and healthy, and attempting to convince everyone that the Bible teaches divine health, my faith would have been firmly planted on the solid rock of Christ. Now I spend my time meditating on the truth that God called me for salvation and the sufferings of this present age cannot be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. I was under-nourished, now I am getting the spiritual vitamins and essential nutrients from the milk of the Word so that I may grow up into full maturity. Come join me. Taste and see that the Lord is good!
Brian L. Spivey
Our thinking of God should begin with His name(s) as found in the Bible. Theology itself should begin here too. In his massive book, THE DOCTRINE OF GOD, Dr. John Frame writes on “Biblical Descriptions of God” beginning with a simple — yet profound — chapter on the ‘names’ of God. It’s a great chapter to study, and a model of doing clear, biblical thinking about God.
Here are two key paragraphs which ought to stir you and help you to know God better.
God’s name is his self-revelation. NAME, in the general sense, is a virtual synonym of word. And, like word, it is a way of referring to God himself. There is an identity between God and his name, as between God and his word. As we sing praise to God, we sing praise to his name (e.g., Pss. 7:17; 9:2; 18:49); we give to him the glory due his name (29:2); we exalt his name (34:3) and fear it (61:5). God’s name is an object of worship. Since in Scripture God alone is the proper object of worship, this language equates the Lord’s name and the Lord himself.
Similarly, the name of God defends us (Ps. 20:1) and saves us (54:1). We trust in him name for deliverance (33:21). His name endures forever (72:17; 135:13). It “reaches to the ends of the earth” (48:10). It is holy and awesome (111:9). god guides us “for his name sake” (23:3). In Isaiah 30:27, it is “the Name of the Lord” itself that comes to bring judgment on the nations and blessings on his people. So God’s name has divine attributes and performs divine acts. In short, Scripture says about the name of God virtually everything it says about God.
~ Dr John M Frame, The Doctrine of God, page 348.
The Armies of the Lamb: The Spirituality of Andrew Fuller, was edited by Dr. Michael Haykin, and published by Joshua Press, © 2001. It provides readers with a snapshot of the spiritual growth and influence of the eighteenth century pastor, Andrew Fuller. Haykin compiled forty-six of Fuller’s letters. The letters are not organized by any obvious pattern: size, content, or geographical sequence; however, the apparent “randomness” of the letters seem to prove that Fuller’s life and ministry was governed by the Scriptures.
In several of Fuller’s letters, he encouraged many of his recipients to “Be conversant with their Bible.” Fuller also told a group of pastors to make sure they didn’t just use their Bible to look for passages to preach, but to “Read them that you may get good to your own souls.” This is good advice, but is that enough for spiritual growth? NO. Reading our Bibles is not enough — we must allow our Bibles to read us!
The Scriptures teach that The Word of God judges the intentions of our hearts (Hebrews 4:12). It will usually be in our quiet time that the Word will show us the motives of our actions. For example, why did I help my neighbor fix his car? Was it because I wanted my neighbor to be in debt to me so that when my car breaks down he will feel obligated to help me? Did we give money to that college student so that in the future, someone will give money to our children? Or do we just do good deeds for God’s approval or “good karma?” We should read God’s Word, but it will not benefit us as much as allowing God’s Word to read our hearts so that both our hearts and actions will bring glory to God.
Brian L. Spivey