Faithlife Sermons

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In John’s Gospel, Jesus tells Israel’s religious leaders: “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life.
These are the Scriptures that testify about me,” (John 5:39, NIV84).
The Scriptures he is referring to are of course what we call the Old Testament.
The Jews call it the Tanakh.
It’s an acronym formed by the initial Hebrew letters of the three traditional subdivisions of their bible: Torah—Ta (the Law), Nevium—Na (the Prophets), and Ketuvim—Kh, (the Writings).
Jesus clearly tells the scholars of his day, that the Messianic prophecies of the Tanakh refer to him.
This Christmas season, I want to preach Christ to you from the vantage point of the Apostles.
Within ten to fifteen years after the resurrection of Jesus, the Lord’s brother, James, and the Apostle Paul are authoring the earliest letters that would become part of our New Testament.
Within twenty to thirty years after our Lord’s resurrection Matthew has penned his Gospel.
Luke, Mark, and John would all follow.
All of them tuned to their Scripture—our Old Testament—to see the life and ministry of Jesus foretold.
One of the very best sources for them were the Psalms, and that’s where we our attention will be focused through Christmas morning.
The New Testament directly quotes 79 Psalm passages and paraphrases 333 other verses.
This makes the Psalms the most quoted of the Jewish Scriptures in the New Testament.
We’re going to start with the 40th Psalm which teaches us that The Anointed One—the Messiah—would come to dwell among men.
In Psalm 40, verses 6-10 predict that a day will come when Deity Will Dwell with Men (vv.
/"Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.
Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—it is written about me in the scroll.
I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”
I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, as you know, O Lord.
I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and salvation.
I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly."/
(Psalm 40:6-10, NIV)
This central section of the Psalm is in four parts, with the incarnation clause in the center—/“Here I am, I have come ... “/
* /"Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require."/
(Psalm 40:6, NIV)
#. since the dawn of creation, people have sought to worship by offering sacrifices to their deities
#. sometimes the sacrifices were from the fruit of the land and sometimes they were animals that they had slain
#. from the Moabites in the Middle East to the Aztecs in South America, people have sacrificed to placate the gods they served, hoping that they would produce good crops, prosper throughout the year, enjoy good health, and be victorious over hostile peoples living around them
sacrifice originated in the mind of God and was intended to provide an atonement for sin so that people could approach Him
#. this is pictured in the Garden of Eden, when God made coverings for Adam and Eve
#. sacrifices were to be offered as a vicarious and substitutionary expiation for people’s sins, which were symbolically transferred to animals used to make atonement and propitiate the wrath of God against the sinners
#. but faith was always the key element in the sacrifice—not the sacrifice itself
#. in Psalm 40:6 there are four Hebrew words in this verse that refer to the principal offerings of the Levitical code
#. /sacrifice/ is a general term for all the thanksgiving sacrifices in the Old Testament
#. /offering/ refers to the meal offering
#. /burnt offering/
#. in the burnt offering (Lev.
1), a whole animal was consumed on the altar, signifying the complete and voluntary consecration of the Israelites
#. this was the most important of all the offerings
#. when the Israelites presented the animal to the priest, they pressed their hands on the head of the animal, signifying an identification with the animal about to be sacrificed
#. the animals were substituting their lives for those of the Israelites
#. a double identification took place:
#. the sin of the Israelites were committed to the animals, and the acceptability of the offerings were transmitted to the Israelites
#. the shed blood of the animals symbolically represented the sinner’s life freely surrendered
#. thus, the sacrifices were accepted by God as an atonement (v.
4) for the sinner, protecting them from divine wrath
#. it symbolized Christ’s voluntarily surrender to the Father’s will when He offered Himself on the cross
John the Apostle would proclaim in Revelatin that Jesus was the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world
/sin offerings/
#. the sin offering (Lev.
4) was brought by the Israelites as a substitute to make atonement for their sins
#. it typified Christ becoming sin for sinners, dying in their place to take away their sins
#. these offerings were divided into two groups
#. the first are /"sweet savor"/ offerings, consisting of the burnt offering, meal offering, and peace offerings
Paul spoke of Christ’s sacrificial work as a /“sweet-smelling savor”/ (Eph.
#. our Lord’s perfect obedience to the Father was like a sweet aroma before God
#. the second is the “sin offerings”
#. the sin offering was the foundation for all other offerings; without it, the Israelites could not be make amends for their sin
#. all of these offerings were a foreshadowing of Jesus and death on the cross
* /"For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.
Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins?
But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.
For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins."/
(Hebrews 10:1-4, ESV)
#. the sacrifices were God’s kindergarten to the nation
#. they pointed forward to a coming Messiah who was to suffer and die for the sins of the nation, indeed, for the whole world
#. the offerings were profoundly educational and spiritual
#. unfortunately, they degenerated from this ideal into mere external performances
#. the Hebrews forgot that obedience to God and faith in His promises were the saving principles behind the sacrifices
#. the result is that God came to detest the sacrifices of His people
* /"And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams."/
(1 Samuel 15:22, ESV)
* /“I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them.
Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream."/
(Amos 5:21-24, ESV)
* /"They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things.
For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.”
But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.
For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second."/
(Hebrews 8:5-7, ESV)
#. in the Mosaic sacrificial system, millions of animals were sacrificed and rivers of blood flowed over the centuries
#. but Psalm 40 renders a twofold verdict:
#. /"Sacrifice and offering Thou didst not desire”/
#. /“Burnt offering and sin offering hast Thou not required"/
#. the Epistle to the Hebrews gives us the reasons
* /"Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’
”/ (Hebrews 10:5-7, ESV)
#. the incarnation was always God’s plan—not a fall-back position
* /“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men."/ (Acts 2:22-23, ESV)
#. these verses reveal why the Messiah had to come into the world
Jesus came in the flesh because the ritual sacrifices of the Jews were never meant to atone for sin, but to point the Hebrews to faith in God’s ultimate provision—the Anointed One
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