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Commissioning for Service

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Can life hold a more exciting challenge than the service of the living God?

Skating down Canyon, riding waves off the North Shore of Kauai Hawaii and, going to Ozark Christian College as a “Prime Student,” (that is 30 something) life has it’s challenges; however, life holds NO more exciting challenge than the service of the living God!

Leviticus is the 3rd book from the beginning of our Bibles (Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus). Called by the Lord is my defination of the word Leviticus.

Leviticus 8:1-13

Then the LORD said to Moses, 2 “Bring Aaron and his sons, along with their sacred garments, the anointing oil, the bull for the sin offering, the two rams, and the basket of bread made without yeast, 3 and call the entire community of Israel together at the entrance of the Tabernacle.*”

4 So Moses followed the LORD’s instructions, and the whole community assembled at the Tabernacle entrance. 5 Moses announced to them, “This is what the LORD has commanded us to do!” 6 Then he presented Aaron and his sons and washed them with water. 7 He put the official tunic on Aaron and tied the sash around his waist. He dressed him in the robe, placed the ephod on him, and attached the ephod securely with its decorative sash. 8 Then Moses placed the chestpiece on Aaron and put the Urim and the Thummim inside it. 9 He placed the turban on Aaron’s head and attached the gold medallion—the badge of holiness—to the front of the turban, just as the LORD had commanded him.

10 Then Moses took the anointing oil and anointed the Tabernacle and everything in it, making them holy. 11 He sprinkled the oil on the altar seven times, anointing it and all its utensils, as well as the washbasin and its stand, making them holy. 12 Then he poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head, anointing him and making him holy for his work. 13 Next Moses presented Aaron’s sons. He clothed them in their tunics, tied their sashes around them, and put their special head coverings on them, just as the LORD had commanded him.

Will you please pray with me? Father, your Son our Lord Jesus has asked that you do not leave us alone; therefore, fill us with your Spirit so that your Word comes alive and living in our hearts and minds. May we live in both word and deed to Your glory so that the nations take notice! In Jesus Name. Amen.

The Son of God possesses in himself all the qualifications to be the mediator between God and the human race, he is the Priest who has accomplished a perfect work of cleansing for his people’s sins. The Book of Leviticus gives us not just a understanding but also a image that is associated with one ultimate act of love on our behalf. The writer to the Hebrews has told us about Jesus in this way.

Hebrews 7:26 (NLT)

26 He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven.*

That’s Jesus our Lord!

One of the characteristics or traits of Jesus that I especially like is glue. He holds by His action done on earth the events in this Book of Leviticus. However, it takes the Holy Spirit working in our lives to see this. I will call this working of the Holy Spirit our Jesus lenses. Some people may look at the things spoken of in Leviticus indifferently. In it some may not see anything relevant. And some may simply see it as boring but looking at it through our Jesus lenses then we are able to see the application of it to Jesus Christ.

Have you ever played “connect the dots?” These were my favorite math problems because all you would have to do is trace a line from point A to point B and then so on. By connecting the dots in mathematics one can create something as creative as a sixteen dot circle or a child may find their way out of the castle maze. However, would you think with me about something other than a sixteen dot circle or a dot to dot that is then colored in. Think with me so that we can connect the priesthood thing in Leviticus to Jesus and Jesus to us. Are you with me?

God had Moses bring everyone together in front of the central place of worship called the Tabernacle. I do not know how this great crowd of people could hear Moses but somehow everyone was able to participate in the consecration (think of this word as commissioning for service) of Aaron as high priest. One of Aaron’s main objectives was to offer sacrifice on behalf of the people’s sins. You see the priest would represent the people to God and God to the people. For example on behalf of the people the priest would present to the Lord the bull for the sin offering which was burnt for temporary forgives.

Can you tell me what made Aaron stand out from the other people? What made him so noble, decent, and dignified? It was his outfit; well, a little more than that! Although we have already read about this let’s take a second look. Moses clothed Aaron in a robe (v. 7), he had a special breastpiece which housed the Urim and Thummim that were used to determine the will of the Lord (v. 8), and there was a turban which sat on Aaron’s head (v. 9). And centered on the turban was a gold plate, the sacred diadem which read “Holy to the Lord.” There was a song written back in the 1800s which was called “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.” And in the first stanza of the song are these words. “All hail the power of Jesus’ name! Let angels prostrate fall. Bring forth the royal diadem. And crown Him Lord of all. Bring forth the royal diadem. And crown Him Lord of all!” I think the writer of this old classic hymn is connecting the dots between the turban with the diadem centered on it and now Jesus crowned Lord of all!

This outfit, was all good right? Often times what starts out as a good thing does not last that way. When all this first began it was working, it was pleasing to Aaron, it was pleasing to the people, and most importantly it was pleasing to God but something happened. Oh, it may not have gone wrong in Aaron’s lifetime just as something started a previous generation ago in our lives that once had a lot of fire and excitement but today; well, it’s different. I am talking about our contemporary church culture. The Gospel of Matthew tells us a little something about what went wrong and maybe it will help us get the church right. Matthew is a high powered Jew; therefore, religiously, and culturally he is able to identify with Aaron and the whole priesthood thing. The things I am about to say are not intended to put Aaron or the church down but rather serve as a warning.

Matthew 23:1-3 (NLT)

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses.* 3 So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach.

Jesus would then call these religious leaders blind guides.

Matthew 23:16-22 (NLT)

16 “Blind guides! What sorrow awaits you! For you say that it means nothing to swear ‘by God’s Temple,’ but that it is binding to swear ‘by the gold in the Temple.’ 17 Blind fools! Which is more important—the gold or the Temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 And you say that to swear ‘by the altar’ is not binding, but to swear ‘by the gifts on the altar’ is binding. 19 How blind! For which is more important—the gift on the altar or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 When you swear ‘by the altar,’ you are swearing by it and by everything on it. 21 And when you swear ‘by the Temple,’ you are swearing by it and by God, who lives in it. 22 And when you swear ‘by heaven,’ you are swearing by the throne of God and by God, who sits on the throne.

Just so that we are all on the same page what do you think of today’s whole cultural thing with what we wear to church specifically with what the church leader or leaders are wearing? Allow me to illustrate. My home church is going through a tough time and because of this my parents visited elsewhere one Sunday. When they began the worship service my step dad who is very conservative had a hard time with how the worship leader was dressed. He rightly felt that the leader needed to be more noble, decent, and dignified. And according to my grandparents, “we wear our best for the Lord.” Very good; however, which is more important what the person is wearing or their heart? In some churches what is worn has become more important than the churches moral character! Oh, how can this happen!

2 Timothy 2:21 (NLT)

21 If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.

Church we have to be so careful for what has happened in most of our lifetimes with what is worn has happened in other ways in the past, allow me to explain. Cleanliness is a good thing right? I mean “cleanliness is next to godliness.” Part of Aaron’s consecration process was being washed with water (v. 6). God had good intentions for this in the beginning before the religious leaders messed things up. Jesus had something to say about this.

Luke 11:37-41 (NLT)

37 As Jesus was speaking, one of the Pharisees invited him home for a meal. So he went in and took his place at the table.* 38 His host was amazed to see that he sat down to eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony required by Jewish custom. 39 Then the Lord said to him, “You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness! 40 Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside? 41 So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over.

In Jesus’ day the high powered religious leaders took notice that Jesus did not wash before eating. Now the reason these high powered fellows got their feathers ruffled was not because they feared Jesus was going to get anybody sick; instead, they were more concerned about outward appearances than the heart. Church I think cleanness is good, I think we should wear our best to church not for the sake of impressing anyone but for the Lord’s sake. May we honor the Lord in all we do, recognizing that our clothes and cleanliness does not make us holy. The well dressed person may have morally done something wrong this past week or for the past three years but comes to church like all is cool. However, that person that looks dirty in our eyes may have poured his heart out to the Lord the previous night, he or she may have been eagerly waiting to come to church this morning and worship the Lord with the community of faithful witnesses! That is what the Lord sees that is the heart.

The book of Leviticus (called by the Lord) may be summed up in this way,

Leviticus 11:44a (NLT)

44 For I am the LORD your God. You must consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.

The word consecrate has moved me this week. I never knew him but I guess an Old Testament Bible professor from Ozark Christian College had it right when he defined the word “To consecrate (Lev. 8 12) means (in Hebrew) ‘to fill the hands.’ Consecrated people are doers, not just learners” (Wilber Fields). Man that is good. Years ago there were some dudes who would have told you we have seen this in action. “We were all gathering for a very special meal when just before sitting down our Teacher Jesus blows us away when he takes a bowel and a towel and just like the least servant in the house goes to washing the dirt and grim off our feet, talk about humility” (John 13). Jesus’ purpose in life was to save folks like you and me. He is the ultimate High Priest acting very similar to that scapegoat in the 16th chapter of Leviticus. In the story of the scapegoat the priest would place his hands on the head of the goat and confess the sins of the community upon that goats head and then someone would lead that goat outside the camp far outside the camp. Man, that is like Jesus whom also was led outside Jerusalem and outside the camp was crucified for you and me! You can read about this is John 19. Jesus is kind of like Aaron the priest. The main function of the priest was to offer sacrifices to the Lord on behalf of the people and present the Word of the Lord to the people on behalf of God. Now Jesus has done this once and for all. Do you see it? Jesus made sacrifice on behalf of us to God; therefore, acting as our High Priest but the difference between Aaron and Jesus was that Jesus was fully consecrated for our sins. The writer to the Hebrews puts it well when he said it this way.

Hebrews 5:1-5 (NLT)

Every high priest is a man chosen to represent other people in their dealings with God. He presents their gifts to God and offers sacrifices for their sins. 2 And he is able to deal gently with ignorant and wayward people because he himself is subject to the same weaknesses. 3 That is why he must offer sacrifices for his own sins as well as theirs.

4 And no one can become a high priest simply because he wants such an honor. He must be called by God for this work, just as Aaron was. 5 That is why Christ did not honor himself by assuming he could become High Priest. No, he was chosen by God, who said to him,

“You are my Son.

Today I have become your Father.*”

With all this business of Aaron’s outfit and what we wear in the church today think about it this way. Before Jesus would come to earth this is what Isaiah had to say about the Lord of lords, the King of kings, the anointed One who was to come and save the world from their sins.

Isaiah 53:1-4 (NLT)

1 Who has believed our message?

To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm?

2 My servant grew up in the LORD’s presence like a tender green shoot,

like a root in dry ground.

There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance,

nothing to attract us to him.

3 He was despised and rejected—

a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.

We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.

He was despised, and we did not care.

4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;

it was our sorrows* that weighed him down.

And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,

a punishment for his own sins!

Man this is moving me! After Christ would come Paul would say this about him.

Philippians 2:3-8 (NLT)

3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

6 Though he was God,*

he did not think of equality with God

as something to cling to.

7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges*;

he took the humble position of a slave*

and was born as a human being.

When he appeared in human form,*

8 he humbled himself in obedience to God

and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Church when we have a servant’s heart then we can cry out these words.

Man if the Lord of lords, and King of kings has come to earth as a servant who am I to get caught up in the things this world calls great. Make me like you Lord make me like you. For you were a servant make me one too. Lord I am will to what you must do make me like you Lord make me like you.

It is possible to be sinning while wearing high powered clothes and having a certain view of cleanliness.

1 Peter 2:9 (NLT)

9 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests,* a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

We are all priests!

2 Timothy 2:21 (NLT)

21 If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.

Yes, we must be consecrated in service to the King of kings and Lord of lords. Can life hold a more exciting challenge than the service of the living God? Over the last 7 weeks at church we have been studying the word “called.” Shortly into the study of Moses’ life God called me to higher education and sometime next month I will find out if I have been accepted into the Master of Arts in Global Leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary. That is me but what about you, has God been calling? If God’s Word has moved you as it has moved me then I invite you to tell us how.

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