7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? (Isaiah 53:7–8, ESV)
The Ethiopian read this stunning prophecy of Christ in his chariot during his return home from Jerusalem, where he had worshiped (Acts 8:27-33). Perplexed about its meaning, he asked Philip to join him and explain it. So, beginning with this Scripture, Philip preached Jesus to him, leading to his salvation (Acts 8:34-39). Approximately 700 years before His crucifixion, Isaiah described God’s suffering and sin-bearing servant (Isa. 53). Jesus fulfilled this prophecy. What marvelous humility and complete willingness to endure injustice, agony, and death without defiantly opening His mouth (Matt. 26:59-68). Depicted as a docile sheep being led to slaughter, in death, Jesus “suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow His steps” (1 Pet. 2:21-24). He bore the pains of death for us, an offering for sin accepted by God (Isa. 53:10-12). When people revile you for the name of Christ, do not “revile in return.” Instead, bear the reproach of Christ and commit yourself to God who judges righteously (1 Pet. 2:23; Heb. 13:13-14). Like Jesus, may we surrender ourselves to doing God’s will, knowing He is faithful safely secure our souls in Christ (Heb. 13:5-6).
18 For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, 19 for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God (Hebrews 7:18–19, NKJV).
In explaining the superiority of the priesthood of Christ over the Levitical priests of the Law of Moses (Heb. 7:11), the inspired writer emphasizes our ability to “draw near to God” through Jesus Christ, our High Priest “according to the order (likeness, JRP) of Melchizedek” (Heb. 7:15-17). The law that sanctioned the Levitical priesthood could not redeem sinners through the animal sacrifices offered by its priests, the sons of Aaron (Heb. 7:11; 10:1-4). Therefore, God annulled (set aside, abolished) the “former commandment” that installed the Levitical priesthood because its service was impotent, unable to redeem sinners (Heb. 7:16, 18). By contrast, through the priesthood of Christ, we have a better hope (Heb. 7:19). His presence in heaven at the right hand of God assures access to God’s merciful grace (Heb. 7:24-8:2). Serving as High Priest, Jesus offered Himself – his lifeblood – as an offering for the sins of the world (Heb. 7:27). Christ’s offering of Himself appeases God’s wrath against sin (Isa. 53:11-12; Rom. 3:24-25; 1 John 2:1-2). Now, we can draw near to God in faith and be forgiven (Gal. 3:26-29; Heb. 10:11-18). Praise God for His great plan of redemption. Thank God Jesus Christ is our “great High Priest who has passed through the heavens,” enabling us to “hold fast our confession” by “coming boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:14-16).
7 But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together. (Genesis 22:7-8, NKJV)
God will provide. He had previously provided Abraham protection from danger, victory over foes, and abundant blessings. God had given Abraham an heir in his old age, Isaac, the child God promised him. Now, Abraham’s faith is supremely tested by God’s command to “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you” (Gen. 22:2). With godly fear, Abraham obeyed the Lord (Heb. 11:17). God prevented Isaac’s death and provided a ram for the offering. Abraham named the place “The-Lord-Will-Provide” (Gen. 22:12-14). The imagery of this event shines brilliantly in the gospel. In love, God gave His only begotten Son to die for humanity as an offering for our sins (Jno. 3:16; Rom. 5:6-11; Heb. 10:5-10). God will provide for our needs. “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things” (Rom. 8:31-32)? Abraham did not forsake God, and God did not forsake him. God assures His faithful ones, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). Oh yes, God will provide.
12 “But you profane it, in that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is defiled; And its fruit, its food, is contemptible.’ 13 You also say, ‘Oh, what a weariness!’ And you sneer at it,” says the Lord of hosts. “And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick; Thus you bring an offering! Should I accept this from your hand?” says the Lord.” (Malachi 1:12–13, NKJV)
When will man learn that acceptable worship of God is not defined and determined by what man chooses to offer God, but by what God says will be please Him? Ancient Israel corrupted the table of the Lord by failing to carefully offer Him sacrifices according to His law. They brought defective offerings before Him, and sneered with contempt at the commanded sacrifices (Deuteronomy 15:21). God heard their complaints, and rejected their contemptible, faithless offerings. Surely, we must learn that our worship will only please God when it is “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). God rejects defective worship today, even as He did then. God will not accept attempts to worship Him that fail to conform to the worship taught and approved in the new covenant of Christ. True worship does not become “a weariness” and “contemptible” to true worshipers (John 4:23). Let us approach God with reverential honor, and never grow weary of offering Him the worship He commands – and is due (Malachi 1:6).
1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. 3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; (Ephesians 5:1–3, NKJV)
There are repeated warnings in the Scriptures of falling into sexual sins. Here, being imitators of God and walking in sacrificial love are the preventative measures we take to avoid the moral defilement of “fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness.” Ironically, the world often calls fornication, “love,” as millions upon millions commit this sin in the name of “love.” Sexual uncleanness occurs outside of God-approved marriage, and is the fruit of covetousness (Heb. 13:4; cf. Exo. 20:17). These sins are “not even to be named” among Christians. R. C. H. Lenski correctly explains this to mean that “such vices are to be so far removed from us that even an intimation or a suspicion of their presence among us should not occur” (The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistles to the Galatians, to the Ephesians and to the Philippians, p. 596). Christians are not immune to sexual temptations; but, we must resist them and reject them whenever they come (1 Pet. 5:8-9). “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (Jas. 4:7). Then, we can be “an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”
1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” (Matthew 2:1–2, NKJV)
Let us ask and answer the question posed by the wise men to Herod: “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” The Scriptures tell us Jesus arose from the dead and ascended into heaven (Matt. 28:1-6; Acts 1:9-11). In heaven, Jesus is at the right hand of God, having been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18; Acts 2:33). At God’s right hand, Jesus is the head of His body, His church (Eph. 1:20-23). There, Jesus sits on the throne of David over His kingdom, just as God had promised (Lk. 1:32; Dan. 2:44; Mk. 9:1; Acts 2:30-31). He is there as High Priest, having presented Himself an offering for the sins of the world. Now, He ministers on behalf of the people of God (Heb. 8:1; 9:24-26; 4:14-16). Where is the King? Why, He is in heaven on His throne, ruling by His truth and blessing with salvation all who believe and obey Him. One day He will return, and judge us all in righteousness (Acts 17:31; 2 Cor. 5:10). The question is: Will you worship Him like those wise men of old? Or, will you deny where He is?
By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. (Hebrews 11:4, NKJV)
God is not obliged to accept anything and everything people offer to Him in worship. If He is, then God is to be charged with wrongdoing toward Cain. Yet, “by faith” Abel offered “a more excellent sacrifice than Cain”. The Scripture says the Lord “did not respect Cain and his offering” (Gen. 4:5). It is apparent Cain did not bring his offering to God “by faith”. Since faith comes by hearing the word of God, it is evident that Abel followed God’s word concerning the sacrifice; Cain did not (Rom. 10:17). True worshipers are careful to bring before God the worship He approves (Jno. 4:23-24). It is not up to us to decide what is good to give God. We must listen to His word and humbly come before Him with the worship and service He deems acceptable.
11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God… (Hebrews 10:11–12, NKJV)
In contrast to the repeated offerings of animal sacrifices by Levitical priests, the great High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, offered one sacrifice for sins forever. With “His own blood” He entered heaven (“the Most Holy Place”), and by it, obtained eternal redemption for sinners (Heb. 9:12, 14-15, 26-28; 10:10). The gospel, “the word of the cross”, presents the sacrifice of Jesus to the whole world and calls us to salvation by His blood (1 Cor. 1:18; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:20). Thank God today for His great love, His marvelous wisdom and His rich mercy. All are on full display when we survey the wondrous cross of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
3 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1:3-5)
The voluntary offering of Jesus Christ for our sins is the defining moment of God’s love for the whole world. Without reservation, Jesus laid down His life as “an offering for sin” in order to pluck us out of the evil of this present age (Isa. 53:10). Having totally given Himself to the will of the Father, Jesus totally gave Himself for us. How completely thankless it is, therefore, to refuse His love. How utterly insensitive it is to return to the vile sins of the world having once been delivered by the blood of the Lamb. Divine favor and peace is given those who honor the Father and the Son for this great deliverance from sin and death. If you will hear, believe and obey His gospel call you will be saved because of God’s great love for you in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.