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Saturday, June 23, 2018

2018.06.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 12:29

Questions for Littles: Who is a consuming fire? Whose God is He?
In this week’s sermon text, we were reminded that it is no small thing to approach God in worship. The concluding verse of that text alludes to three places in Scripture to remind us that the glory of worship is actually the glory of the living God Himself.

The first place to which it alludes is Sinai. We know this of course, because it is the nearest conflagration of fire to our passage, being mentioned earlier in the passage. But whether at the time of the ten commandments, or earlier in Moses’s experience of the bush, there is one detail that tells us that these are not the primary allusion here: in neither of those Sinai fires did the Lord actually consume what was on fire.

The second place that this “consuming fire” image takes us is the whole burnt offering. It was the first and primary offering in the system of worship that the Lord had commanded under the Mosaic covenant. You couldn’t have any other kind of worship without the offering in which the entire bull would be entirely burnt by a fire whose intensity would have to be achieved to accomplish that.

But, just as the bull is an inferior substitute as a glimpse of Christ, so also the burnt offering’s consuming fire is an inferior substitute as a glimpse of the wrath of God. How great and consuming is the wrath of God, and it is every bit as central to His character as love is! We love to quote 1John 4:8, “God is love.” How much do we love to quote Hebrews 12:29, “God is wrath.” Our God is a consuming fire!

And how much more amazing is His love to us now than it was before we began to grasp that truth?

The third, and most pointed, place to which this verse points us is Leviticus 10 and the cautionary demise of Nadab and Abihu. Consecrated priests, on a consecrated day, using consecrated pans, to offer consecrated incense. What could be wrong about that?

One thing: God had not told them to perform this act of worship. God calls it strange fire, and goes on to explain what made it strange, “which He had not commanded them” (Lev 10:1). Now, consider vv2-3 in light of the passage before us this week:

“So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.’ ”

Oh, dear reader, how necessary it is that we remember the divine simplicity. Our God is who He is—not in parts or pieces but a glorious divine simplicity. So when we come to Him, let us come to Him in the manner appropriate to His nature as love and His nature as a consuming fire!
How do God’s holiness and wrath magnify His grace to you? How does this affect how we worship?
Suggested Songs: ARP7B “God Is My Shield” or HB11 “Holy, Holy, Holy!”

Friday, June 22, 2018

2018.06.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 15:16-39

Questions for Littles: What did the soldiers put on Jesus’s head (v17)? What did they say in v18? What did they do to him in v19? To what place did they bring him (v22)? When they offered Him wine with painkiller in it, what did He do (v23)? What were they doing with His clothes (v24)? What was the charge against Him (v26)? What does v28 give as the explanation for the two robbers being crucified with Him? What did those who passed by do (v29)? Who else blasphemed and mocked Him (v31-32)? What happened for three hours (v33)? What did Jesus say at the ninth hour (v34)? What happened in v37? And what happened to the veil of the temple (v38)? What did the centurion say and why (v39) 
In the Gospel reading this week, we come to the climax of the gospel of Mark, and indeed the crisis point of all human history.

Truly this Man was the Son of God! God became a man to die for men so that we might come safely near His holiness. God opened that new way through the veil—the flesh of Jesus Christ.

This is the answer to that question that Jesus quoted from the beginning of Psalm 22. Jesus was forsaken so that we could be forgiven and call the Holy God our Father.

We are horrified by the mocking of the soldiers—the whole garrison gathering together for the crown of thorns, the mocking salute, caning Him in the head, spitting on Him, and offering Him mock worship. We are horrified by the passers by, wagging their heads and blaspheming Him. We are horrified by the chief priests making even belief in Him a point of mockery. We are horrified by those who were crucified with Him reviling Him.

But, to be honest with ourselves, we are not so horrified with these things as we ought to be even with our own sin. And that is part of the point, in the blessed wisdom of the Holy Spirit: do you see what sin is? Do you see what sin does?

No wonder such a sacrifice would have been required to atone for it! And what a glorious wonder indeed that the Holy One would give Himself for such sinners as we are!! Amazing love, how can it be that Thou, my God should’st die for me?!
What has God given us to keep the cross of Christ fresh on our minds and hearts?
Suggested songs: ARP22A “My God, My God” or HB199 “Alas! and Did My Saviour Bleed”