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bible reading mar 13



Bible reading for March 13:  Exodus 24; John 3.

Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient." And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, "Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words." (Exodus 24:7-8) 

The blood of the covenant.  Previously, the people of Israel had to stay away from Mount Sinai. It was a fearful sight, and people (and animals) were barred by penalty of death from approaching the presence of God there.  Now here's a change: the leaders of the people are invited to come to the mountain, and wonder of wonders, to see the glory of God and to eat in his presence.  What made the difference?  It was the sprinkling of the blood of the sacrificial offerings, the blood of the covenant.  This blood foreshadows the new covenant that Christ would inaugurate: "...this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matt 26:28).  It is through the Lord Jesus and his death that we may approach God, have fellowship with him, and see his glory.  John the Baptist said of Jesus, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29) 

Doomed to failure.  "All that the Lord has spoken we will do..." This verse combined with verse 17, "Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain...," would seem to put in doubt the lasting success of the Mosaic covenant. "We will obey..." Well, they didn't.  I'm sure they sincerely meant those words, but in fact they would be worshiping idols in a matter of weeks.  God is holy, "like a devouring fire."  One purpose of this covenant with Israel is to demonstrate that mankind cannot be saved by any kind of bilateral, mutual commitment.  That is, salvation will not be a matter of "I do my part" and "God does his part".  It is rather this: "Salvation belongs to the LORD!" (Jonah 2:9)  We need a covenant based upon grace.   

A better covenant. The OT prophets spoke of a new and better covenant to come (Jer 31:31-34; Ezek 36-37).  God would write his law upon the hearts of his people, forgive their sins, and never forsake them.  It will be permanent, eternal, and secure: "I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me" (Jer 32:40).  The sprinkled blood that brings us into covenant relationship and into communion with our holy God will not be the blood of bulls or goats but rather the blood of God's beloved Son (Heb 10:4-10).   

There's much more on this in the book of Hebrews, but today's NT reading also relates to this topic...   

================  

Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3)

The new birth.  The new covenant would come hand-in-hand with the new birth. To write the law upon our hearts would require a work of the Spirit of God. Being declared right with God is called "justification". Being given a new heart and nature that trusts God and wants to obey him is called "regeneration".  Likely, Jesus' reference to being "born of the water and the Spirit" (3:5) looks back to Ezekiel's prophecy of the new covenant... "I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules" (Ezek 36:25-27). 

Have you been born again? The evidences that we have been given a new heart and nature are these:  1) I understand my lostness and guilt, and know that no amount of self-improvement can commend me to God, i.e., that I need mercy and grace.  2) I see and trust that Jesus has accomplished the salvation that I could never achieve, and so receive him and his salvation gladly as a gift by faith.  3) I am desiring to walk in God's ways, to be obedient as a child to him, and to be giving up the idols my heart has loved and trusted in.  These are some signs of the new birth. The first epistle of John (1 John) adds some others, such as loving truth (biblical teaching) and having a love and care for God's people.

Look to Jesus! "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life" (3:14-15).  This looks back on an event in Israel's history, when people bit by fiery serpents (poisonous snakes) in the wilderness were to look at a bronze serpent that Moses placed on a pole.  When those who were bitten looked at it, they were healed (Num 21:9). Faith is a kind of looking or seeing, and in the case of Jesus, there's life in a look!  John chapter three closes with the choice that we are all faced with: "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him" (3:36). 

He must increase.  John the Baptist was a remarkable man, perhaps the greatest prophet before Christ.  He never worked a miracle, at least, none are recorded.  He never wrote a book. He lived on a kind of Paleo diet. And his attitude toward his mission and ministry was, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (3:30).  Those of us, especially those of us in church leadership, need to remember that our role is to introduce others to Christ, who is the real King and the Center of redemption history. It's too easy to get full of ourselves -- especially if our ministry is popular -- and then forget that we are merely attendants to the bridegroom, or simple door-keepers in the King's castle.  If people forget us and are drawn to Jesus, then that is how it should be!         


Image credit: Above, Eltz Castle, Wierschem, Germany, photo by Tim Rebkavets on Unsplash.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. 
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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