Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Thoughts on Lent 5

To keep the word of Jesus is to do what Abraham did. Abraham saw and rejoiced. The Jews didn't. Will we?

Abraham rejoiced to see His day and saw it (Genesis 22:14; Jubilees 16:20-30; 18:12-19). Abraham saw Jesus' day when He saw his son, his only son, whom he loves, raised from the dead on Mount Moriah (Genesis 22; Hebrews 11:13-19). For on that mountain, the mount of the Lord, He (that is Jesus, the Lamb of God) will be seen (Genesis 22:14 MT|LXX; John 1:29). He was seen by David in that very place when Mount Moriah was appointed the sight of Solomon's Temple (2 Chronicles 3:1). He was seen when the cloud of the Lord's glory filled the Sanctuary within Solomon's Temple (1 Kings 8:4-11). He was seen when the Son of man was lifted up, glorified on the cross, entering once for all into the Sanctuary made without hands to secure an eternal redemption with His own blood (Hebrews 9:11-15). 

The Jews didn't rejoice; they hated and sought to kill. They were slow to hear and keep the Word and quick to kill. They didn't see because they didn't hear and keep the Word which spoke of Him (John 5:35ff). They wouldn't live, they would see and taste death because they didn't taste and see that the Lord is good, that He keeps His promises, that He is faithful, and that His Word is both Spirit and life (John 6:53). 

And so on the Temple mount, the place of the obedience and rejoicing of Abraham and the sacrifice of his only son, Isaac; within the Feast of Tabernacles that affirms the worship of Israel's one God and commemorates the seeing and rejoicing of Abraham (Jubilees 16:20-30; 18:12-19), Jesus shows the seed of Abraham that they are not truly Abraham's seed. For they are disobedient--they do not keep His Word and they don't rejoice to see Him. They don't do what Abraham did. And what they do do proves them to be the seed of their Father the devil, a murderer, persecutor, and blasphemer.

Jesus is the new Temple not made with hands. He is the dwelling place of YHWH, the very glory of God, the Word and Name of God, the Love of God in the flesh. He will be torn down but after three days be raised back up. He savored the taste of death in our stead instead of quenching His thirst. He saw the birth of the church in His mother and the beloved disciple. He spoke His Word that made it all come to pass: it is finished.

"For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel" (Hebrews 12:18-22).

And thus the Father is worshipped in Spirit and Truth by receiving the poured-out and sprinkled blood of Jesus. For there we enter the Sanctuary of the Temple not made with hands, and we see and rejoice with angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven. That the Lamb who was slain lives and reigns forever. This is our hope, our strength, our comfort and our vindication as we live as fallen men in a fallen and broken world.  

And so back to the beginning: To keep the word of Jesus is to do what Abraham did. Abraham saw and rejoiced. The Jews didn't. Will we? Will we be the children of God born not of the will of the flesh nor of man but of God? Will we hear and keep His Word? Will we taste and see that the Lord is good so that we don't see and taste death? The Lord will always have his church, He will always have His people, He is able to raise up offspring of Abraham from stones. The question is will we be a part of it? (Small Catechism on Petitions 1-3 of the Lord's Prayer). 

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