Tag Archives: faith

Mark 8:24 “..I see men like trees, walking.”

Mark 8:24 should be read in the context of Mark 8:22-26 as follows:

“Then He came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him. So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. And when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he saw anything. And he looked up and said, “I see men like trees, walking.” Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly. Then He sent him away to his house, saying, “Neither go into the town, nor tell anyone in the town.””

Let me share 3 things I learn from this incident recorded in Mark 8:22-26 :

Firstly, there are always good reasons for things to happen the way they did. Why did Jesus not heal the man instantly? Couldn’t He just speak the word and this man get back his vision? Certainly! But remember, Jesus is God – He can choose how He wanted to heal. And in this case, He chose to adopt a 2-stage process. And as He did via parables, this was probably for the purpose of teaching us precious lessons. Sometimes we seek God in prayer to the extent of trying to “prescribe” to God how we like Him to act. There may be a place for fervent & bold prayers. But we must humbly submit to God’s sovereignty in how He decides to act.

Secondly, the people brought this blind man to Jesus and begged Jesus to “touch him” (v24). They probably did not expect Jesus to spit on his eyes. But to get back his vision, this man would accept whatever God would do to him. He did not resist or question Jesus as to why He did such a thing. Do we trust God enough to let Him do whatever He deemed right and necessary to us? Tough question. But perhaps if we were in as desperate a state as this blind man, we probably would. Thank God for being gentle and patient in how He slowly drew us to Himself and sanctify us.

Thirdly, the blind man saw “..men like trees, walking”. How could a man who had been blind be able to tell what trees looked like (if he had never seen before)? How could he have compared “men to be like trees walking”? I don’t believe there was anything “defective” in the healing act of Jesus. I don’t think He failed at the instant and therefore had to “adjust” how He healed. Remember, all that a blind man could see is darkness. But now, he is given some light. He probably still cannot figure out exactly what all that he saw meant. The same may be true for some of us in salvation. When the light of the gospel enters our heart, we have a sense of our sin and our need for salvation. We see, but yet do not see completely. But as we persevere in seeking God, He opens our eyes to see clearly and understand fully the things of our faith and the design of God in it all. This is what I believe this incident was meant to teach us.

Overall, let’s remember that we are blind men seeking a sovereign God to heal us. We have no “voting rights” in how He should deal with us. All we can do is to seek His grace & mercies. Thankfully, our God is gentle, patient and full of compassion. He knows what we are like and deals with each of us according to what He knows we are able to bear. May God encourage us.

Leviticus 2 – Jesus, Our Righteousness – preached @ Shalom Church on 25 Oct 2020

The video recording of the worship service at which this sermon was preached is found in the following link:


(The actual worship starts at the 2min44sec mark while the sermon commences at the 24th min mark.)

In July 2019, I had the privilege of bringing to you God’s word from Leviticus 1.

And we learnt from Leviticus 1 that to approach our Holy God, a life had to be laid down to atone for our sins.

An animal had to be offered as a burnt offering sacrifice.

And that offering was a foreshadow of what Jesus did on the Cross as the ultimate sacrifice for sinners.

That is why 1 Pet 2:24 says that Christ “… bore our sins in his own body on the tree, the we, having died to sins, might live…”

This is the way that God has prescribed by which He is to be approached.

It is not something that we invented or imagined.

It is recorded in the bible so that sinful man can understand how to be reconciled to a holy God.

Now, the book of Leviticus presents 5 different pictures of Jesus as our offering to God.

There is the burnt offering (presented to us in chapter 1).

There is the grain offering (in chapter 2.)

There is also the peace offering (in chapter 3).

The sin offering (in chapter 4).

And then, the trespass offering (in chapter 5).

Each of these offerings is a picture of Jesus Christ.

There are 5 different offerings because none can provide a comprehensive picture of Jesus’s work on its own.

This morning, I preach to you Jesus Christ, our righteousness – presented in Leviticus 2.

It is my desire that you will have Jesus as your righteousness before God.

Leviticus chapter 2 describes the grain offering.

Just how is this linked to Jesus, our righteousness?

We shall examine this by asking the following 3 questions:

1) How was the grain offering different from the other offerings?

2) What was the grain offering made of?

3) How was the grain offering divided?

And may God help us understand His word.

Let’s start with our first question…

  1. How was the grain offering different from the other offerings?

There are 2 ways in which the grain offering was different from the other offerings.

A) Firstly, the grain Offering is the only offering that does not involve the slaying of an animal

Most of you are using the New King James Bible which calls this the “grain offering”.

The American Standard Version translated this as “meal offering”.

And the King James Bible (American edition), translated this as “meat offering”.

And you wonder why I say it does not involve the slaying of an animal.

You see, the same English words may have different meanings at different times in history.

For example, the word “cute” did not mean adorable, the way we understand it today.

And in 1611 when the King James Bible was translated, the word “meat” simply meant food.

So in those days, a farmer may say “I need to ‘meat’ the cow”.

What he meant was that he needed to “give food” to the cow.

Most bible translations use the phrase “grain offering” because this offering is mainly made of flour.

And “grain” was the main type of food that the Jews ate in those days.

So, this “grain offering” is also known as the “meal” offering or “food” offering.

But whether it is translated as “meal”, “grain”, “food” or “meat”, the important thing to note is that this “grain offering” was never offered on its own.

It was always accompanied by the morning or evening burnt offering sacrifice.

So it remained clear to everyone that there is no approach to God, except by a life laid down. (Lev 1).

B) Secondly, this offering was different in that it was an expression of devotion & giving the best that one can give

The Hebrew word for the grain offering is “Minchah”.

This is the same word used for the offerings made by Cain & Abel in Gen 4.

It is also the same word used for the gifts that Jacob brought to Esau in Gen 32.

“Minchah” is a gift from an inferior to a superior.

It is a gift from a servant to a Lord.

And so, this gift ought to be nothing less than the best that one can offer.

And this grain offering can be made by anyone who wants to express his worship to God.

So perhaps here is an old testament believer who could afford an oven in his home.

And so, he would bake this grain offering as we read in v4.

But perhaps there is another believer who couldn’t afford an oven at home & only has a frying pan instead.

Then he prepares this grain offering using the frying pan as we read in v 5&7.

Or perhaps there is another believer who doesn’t even have any access to such resources.

In that case, he should just roast the first fruits of the grain he has harvested.

This is what we read in v14.

The point is this and here is the call of the gospel – you are invited to come and worship your God!

You can show your devotion to Him & how much He means to you regardless of your material circumstances.

And God has prescribed the way in which you should do it.

No one has any excuse for not coming to God, Regardless of whether you are rich or poor.

However, you need to be mindful of the ingredients that goes into this grain offering.

And your approach to God has to be based on what God has prescribed in His word.

Nothing more & nothing less.

So, what ingredients did God prescribe for the grain offering?

That brings us to our 2nd question for today.

  1. What was the grain offering made of?

There are 3 things that MUST BE in present the grain offering.

There are also 2 things that MUST NEVER BE in the grain offering.

Let’s start with the 2 things that MUST NEVER BE in the grain offering.

Firstly, there must be no leaven in the grain offering (v11a).


Because leaven is consistently used in the bible as a symbol of evil or corruption.

In Ex 12:15, the Israelites prepared for the Passover.

And to sanctify themselves, there were 7 days of partaking of unleavened bread.

In Mark 8:15, Jesus warned his disciples to “…beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”

The Apostle Paul warned the Corinthians & Galatians in his letters to them that “..a little leaven leavens the whole lump..”

So there must be no leaven in the grain offering.

Secondly, there must also be no honey.


Because – honey can turn sour and induce the process of fermentation.

Did you know that? Are you surprised?

I was, because I always thought honey was good for my throat.

But when preparing for this sermon, I learnt something new.

If you increase the moisture content in honey to more than 19%, you trigger the process of fermentation.

I realised that when the Jews had no leaven, they could use fermenting honey to bake Old Testament bread.

They could also use it to make Old Testament wine.

Now, I am not qualified to teach you how to bake, but the point here is this:

There should be no leaven in the grain offering –

Not even the slightest hint of it!

Not even in the form of fermenting honey.

In other words, the grain offering must have no hint of evil or corruption.

Why so strict?

Because the grain offering is picture of Jesus Christ.

There is no sin in Jesus. There is no corruption. There is no impurity. There is no hypocrisy.

There is nothing unseemly in Jesus at all.

Instead, all that you will find is perfect holiness.

And so you must have ingredients in the grain offering that reflect the attributes of Jesus Christ.

Therefore, the grain offering must have these 3 things instead….

Number 1 – there must be oil.

Because oil is a consistent symbol of the Holy Spirit in the Bible.

And the worshipper is told to “…pour oil”…on the grain offering – lots of it!

You see this all throughout chapter 2 – v1, v4, v5, v7, v15 & v16.

Because Jesus is full of the Holy Spirit.

Who conceived Jesus in Mary’s womb? It was the Holy Spirit.

Who anointed him for His ministry? It was the Holy Spirit.

Did Jesus receive only a portion of the Holy Spirit by measure? No!

John 3:34 says “…He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure.”

Jesus is full of the Holy Spirit.

Number 2 – there must be salt.

You see this in v13.

“…every offering of your grain offering you shall season with salt; …..”

You see, salt is a symbol of purity.

Salt is used to arrest the process of corruption or decay.

Jesus called believers the “…salt of the earth..” in Matt 5:13.

The Apostle Paul reminds us that our speech should “…always be with grace, seasoned with salt, …” Col 4:6

We are to be that pure ingredient to influence the world.

We are to arrest the process of corruption.

And our Lord Jesus is the example of purity that ought to be our hallmark.

Number 3 – there must be frankincense.

You see this in v 1, 2, 15 & 16.

Why frankincense?

Because frankincense is a symbol of prayer.

So what we have here is a marvellous picture of Jesus Christ portrayed in this offering.

No leaven, no honey.

In other words – no sin, no corruption, no hypocrisy, no impurity at all.

Instead, full of oil, salt & frankincense.

In other words – Full of the Holy Spirit, Purity & prayer.

So, imagine this Old Testament believer …..

He is a sinner and he can’t approach God on his own.

So he approaches God through the burnt offering sacrifice – a life laid down. That’s Leviticus 1.

But, he also has no perfection on his own.

So he draws near to God through this picture of perfection symbolised by the grain offering. That’s Leviticus 2.

So by the end of Leviticus 2, we have a double picture of the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Now, listen to this carefully so that you don’t misunderstand me now…

When Jesus laid down His life for His people, He paid for our sins – His life for our life.

But that’s only half the story of salvation.

Because that would have made us so-called “neutral” in the sight of God.

Jesus our Saviour also had to live a perfect life when He was on earth.

He had to obey God 100% as a Man.

And that perfection is presented to & accepted by God and credited to us as righteousness.

This is so important because Heb 12 tells us that without holiness no one will see the Lord.

So when we are covered by the righteousness of Christ, when God looks at us, He does not see our sins.

He sees the righteousness of Jesus Christ covering us.

No longer will God turn away from us because of our filthiness.

No longer will His wrath be upon us because He is pleased with the righteousness of Jesus.

O, how precious it is that we have Jesus’ righteousness covering us.

And so, what we have now is not just the pardon of sin because Jesus laid down His life for us.

We are also justified before God because Jesus fulfilled all the requirements of God’s law in perfection.

So that’s what it means to draw near to God on the basis of Jesus’s blood and righteousness.

The Old Testament believer knows that he has nothing on his own with which he could approach God.

So by faith, he draws near to God through these offerings which are pictures of the wonderful Saviour to come.

And it says in Lev 2:9 that this “…offering made by fire, was a sweet aroma to the LORD.”

In other words, the LORD was pleased with this offering.

In Eph 5:2, our LORD Jesus was also said to be “…an offering & a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”

That, my friends, is the wonderful gospel of grace – we can approach God through Jesus blood & righteousness!

It is prayer that each of you can see our Lord Jesus conveyed here in Leviticus 1 & 2.

May you through faith be reconciled to God – because this God’s prescribed way to approach Him.

We come now to our 3rd & final question for today.

  1. How was the grain offering divided?

We’ll answer this question by looking at the following 3 aspects:

  • Firstly, We’ll see what part of the offering was given to God.
  • And then, what was given to the priests.
  • And finally, what the offerer had at the end of it all.

A) Let’s start with the part that was given to God.

When the grain offering was brought to the priests, they would take a portion of it.

And the rest of the offering would be burnt on the “altar of burnt offering” to the LORD.

That portion given to God symbolised that the whole offering belonged to God.

This is the same principle as tithing.

When 10% is given to God, it does not mean that only 10% belonged to God.

Instead, it is a recognition that 100% actually belonged to God.

And giving that 10% was simply to acknowledge that 100% actually belonged to God.

I hope you realise that.

But here’s the wonderful lesson for us…..

As long as the offering had the ingredients that God required,…

And as long as the offering did not have the ingredients that were forbidden,…

God was pleased accept it.

This was regardless of whether the offerer was rich or poor, male or female, young or old.

Sometimes, when it comes to giving & serving, we may think that others have so much more to offer & we get discouraged.

That sister is so gifted; This brother has a more stable job; That family has so much more financial resources.

Remember what Jesus said regarding the poor widow who put 2 mites into the treasury (Luke 21:3)?

“…this poor widow has put in more than all…”, Jesus says…

“for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”…

The point is this – as long as your offering to God contains what God has prescribed…..

As Long as your offering to God does not have what God has forbidden….

And you offer it to Him with a pure & sincere heart…

God receives it.

May that be an encouragement for all of us to give and to serve Him selflessly.

B) Let’s now examine the part that was given to the priests.

When the offering was brought to the tabernacle, the priests would take a portion of it.

Now, what did the priests do with their portion of the grain offering?

Well, They fed on the grain offering; in other words, they took it as their food.

There are 2 applications that I want to point out here:

Firstly, observe that the world contributed nothing for the sustenance of the priesthood.

The priests who served in the temple were supported totally by the people’s offerings.

And this was God’s appointed way for the upkeep of the temple.

And the people gave generously.

Those who give their lives to the work of God ought to be supported by the people of God.

This is the consistent principle that we read in the bible.

Because at the end of the day, this is God’s work and it is God who will sustain it through His people.

Now, when it comes to giving to God’s work, there are 3 things that I want to highlight: –

1) The generous soul will be made rich

Proverbs 11:24-25 – “There is one who scatters, yet increases more; And there is one who withholds more than is right, But it leads to poverty. The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself.”

2) We are exhorted to give out of a loving & cheerful heart

In the new testament, we are not confined to the 10% as a tithe.

Instead, 2 Cor 9:7 says “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

We are to give because we are motivated by love and we are to give cheerfully.

3) We are exhorted to work so that we can give to those in need

Eph 4:28 – “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labour, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need”.

This verse tells us that there are 3 ways in which you can manage material wealth:

a. You can steal to gain material wealth – which obviously is sin, and we must never be associated with such practices.

b. You can labour to get material wealth – which most of us do, so that we can maintain a certain lifestyle.

This is what most of the people in the world do.

To the extent that sometimes, we think we are entitled to enjoy what we have earned with our hands and we refuse to give it up.

And if Christians behave this way, we are actually no different from the people of the world.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am not against you enjoying the labour of your hands, which is God’s blessing.

But the Apostle Paul gives us a different reason for working hard.

“…let him labour, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.”

We are gifted with the ability to work not just to provide for ourselves and our families but also, very importantly, to give to those who have needs.

So if your purpose of working hard is so that you can live a luxurious life, may I suggest to you that this is exactly what the people in the world are doing.

When it comes to matters regarding wealth, we need to remember that God’s economics is not the same as that of this world.

These verses remind us that the One who gave us something to give back to Him is the Owner of the universe.

When we are generous with Him, He is generous with us.

That is why the Psalmist can testify in Psalm 37:35

“I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread.” ….if I may add, no matter how much of their wealth they give to those in need.

Let us remember this when it comes to Christian giving.

Secondly, the priests fed on the grain offering.

The Bible teaches us that every believer can approach God on his own through Jesus Christ.

This is what we call the individual priesthood of the believer – 1 Pet 2:9.

We don’t need earthly priests to act as the intermediary between God and us.

We can approach God directly on our own through Jesus Christ.

Now here’s the spiritual lesson – the grain offering was food for the priests.

And Jesus is the fulfilment of the grain offering.

The priests in the temple were kept physically alive by feeding on their portion of the grain offering.

We who are made priests by Jesus Christ are kept spiritually alive when we feed on Him spiritually.

That is why Jesus said in John 6:57b “… he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.”

So, what does it mean to feed on Jesus?

When we feed on Jesus, we are acknowledging the following:

1) We are spiritually bankrupt.

We are sinful & condemned.

We need Jesus to abide in us so that we have all His benefits – His death, His resurrection, His righteousness – all of which we need in order to approach God.

2) Secondly, we need Him to fill us so that our souls can be continuously nourished.

We are totally dependent on Him to keep us spiritually healthy as we feed on Him.

3) Thirdly, when we feed on Him and Christ is our portion, we will lack nothing because Jesus says “..he who comes to me shall never hunger nor thirst”.

4) Fourthly, when we feed on Jesus, we are acknowledging that we are united with Christ.

Our sins are forgiven.

We are reconciled to God.

And by our union with Christ, we are also one with our Triune God through Jesus’ blood & righteousness.

5) Ultimately, we live because Christ fulfilled all the requirements of God’s law.

And when the righteousness of Christ covers us, we are the beneficiaries as if we have fulfilled those laws.

Oh how precious Christ is!

Feed on Jesus, our righteousness before God.

C) We come now to my final point for today – what did the offerer get?

When the temple was at Jerusalem, worshippers all over would travel a long way to come to Jerusalem.

Those of you who have been to Jerusalem, you know that it is high up on a plateau.

And the journey up to Jerusalem takes a lot of effort and time, especially in those days.

And after the offering has been made, part of it would be given to God.

And part of it goes to the priest.

So What does the offerer get when he goes home?

Well, He would go home empty handed.

Not only will he go home empty-handed, he would have spent a lot of time at the temple.

And he would also be materially poorer after he had made his offering.

But, what he would have was joy & peace in his heart because God was pleased to accept his offering.

And it is wonderful to have peace with God.

I am sure you have experienced situations where someone is angry with you because you have offended him or her.

And you have no peace in your heart because you know you need to seek reconciliation.

I want to tell you that God is angry with us because of our sins.

And there is no peace or reconciliation until we repent and approach Him through Jesus’ blood & righteousness.

May I ask you this morning – Do you have peace with God today?

Are you reconciled to this holy God through Jesus Christ?

Are you ready to meet your Creator if your world would come to an sudden end?

A few weeks ago, I went for a colonoscopy & an endoscopy.

Basically, it is a medical procedure where a camera is inserted into you to determine if you have any internal infections.

I don’t know about you, when I reach a certain age, I fear medical check-ups.

And it’s not so much the fear of the procedure; it’s more the fear that I may discover something I do not want to know.

I thank God for modern medicine so that there is such a thing as GA – where you are made unconscious of the entire process.

As I was wheeled to the procedure room, I saw all the lights passing above me.

And I know I will soon become unconsciousness.

Everyone tells me this procedure has been done thousands of time – so it should be safe.

But, what if I was that 1% where something unfortunate happens to me and I stay unconscious forever?

Was I ready to meet my God if that really happened?

I thank God for giving me a safe procedure.

I thank God that something was discovered and medication was given to me.

I now have peace that I am well physically.

Ladies & gentlemen, boys & girls, why am I telling you this story?

Because I believe some of us may have procrastinated in answering the question of our true spiritual state for a long time.

May be, like me who feared knowing the truth of my physical health, you do not want to know the truth about your spiritual state – for whatever reason.

So, I urge you to do a “spiritual endoscopy” using the light of God’s word and let it shine into the deep recesses of your heart.

And let the blood of Jesus Christ cleanse every sin that can be found & lift that burden of sin & uncertainty from you.

So that you may leave this place empty handed, but full of joy & the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.

My wish for you this morning is that you will be ready to meet God if He would suddenly call you home.

And you can only be ready to meet Him through Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

May the Holy Spirit will impress this upon us today.

The bible says that the angels rejoice in heaven when a sinner repents and returns to God.

Oh, please don’t just walk away after service today; I know there are regulations that forbid physical communication.

But do connect with someone if God is nudging you to come home to His embrace.

Resolve your relationship with Him – because this is what really matters in eternity.

May this day be a day of salvation for many of us. Amen!

2 Thessalonians 1:6 – God will repay with tribulation those who trouble us

God has the prerogative to deal with those who trouble us. This verse tells us that He may bring tribulation to repay them for the trouble they give to us.

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” Rom 8:31. The God who made the heavens & the earth can mobilise every resource He owns to punish those who make trouble for us. This is comfort for those who are persecuted and bullied.

However, there are some important questions we need to first ask ourselves:

1) Is God pleased with me? Do I have unconfessed or secret sins that I am hiding?Am I His child, reconciled to Him through Jesus Christ?

2) Is He pleased with my actions & responses in the situation where my opponents “troubled me”?

3) What kind of response would God be pleased with?

To answer question 1, check out these articles:

Gospel of Grace, Naaman comes to faith in God

God does not tolerate secret sins

To answer questions 2 &3, consider what

1 Pet 2:19-21 has to say:

“For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:”

In other words, if we seek God’s glory & obey Him in every situation, and we do not attempt to “justify” ourselves but totally leave it to Him for “vengeance” – we can be assured that God sees and in His good timing (which can be a long time in our measure), He will vindicate us and deal with our enemies according to His justice.

It takes great faith for us to remain silent when the natural reaction is to defend ourselves when we are “targetted” by our opponents. In fact, the world considers those who remain silent as being “weak”. But while the argument & fight goes on, there is a God sitting on the throne in heaven, seeing and watching all these. Only those with eyes of faith will be able to see & appreciate this, just like Stephen in Acts 7.

“Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.” Romans 12:19 . May God help us.

What is the Gospel of Grace?

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

If you were to compare all the religions in this world, there are actually only 2 types:

1) Those that teach that Salvation comes by works, or

2) those that teach that Salvation is by grace.

Salvation by works means you get to heaven by your own merit. You discipline yourself by meditation, philosophy, yoga or other restrictions imposed by some human teaching. You do good works such as charity, financial contributions and other things that make you feel you can be accepted.

The reality is this…., if heaven can be attained by such means, I suggest to you that it is not worth going. Because you are going to find a lot of people there who are so proud of their achievements. Some of us may already feel embarrassed because we don’t even have the possessions that our neighbour has.

On the other hand, there is salvation by the free grace of God. Heaven is such a wonderful place because Jesus Christ – the God-Man who is without sin is there! And none of us sinful creatures deserve to be there! And if we ever get there, it is because God has graciously opened our eyes to see how unworthy we are. And in spite of our unworthiness, He paid the price required to bring us there. Jesus gave His life to pay for the sins that we have committed. (Check out this sermon to understand the required redemption for our sins). And He lived a sinless life – which is the requirement for anyone to get into heaven. And all these are accorded to us when we believe in Jesus Christ…..That’s grace – totally unmerited salvation! You can’t do anything to achieve it – it is totally a gift from God! This is the gospel of grace!

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”