Tag Archives: sin

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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQdG7CGz6vA&list=PLgETZJJFvtOCK7JEa5F55YC0Sv9PFhiN2&index=3

(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).

Why?

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.

Why?

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!

Gen 3:15 – God Promises a Saviour

Preached at Shalom Church on 22 Dec 2019

Gen 3:15 – God Promises a Saviour

In a few days it will be Christmas.

Christmas means different things to different people.

Some of you may be expecting to hear a sentimental Christmas message.

Perhaps about shepherds & angels singing?

But I want to tell you that the real Christmas story is about a faithful God.

A faithful God who made a covenant promise in the garden of Eden….

A promise to redeem His people from their fallen state of sin.

And He kept this promise throughout the Old Testament.

And fulfilled it according to His divinely appointed time.

I don’t know which day the appointed time was –

… whether it was even a cold winter’s night?

But I do know that it was the day when Jesus was born into this world.

This morning, I want to share with you 4 things about this covenant promise that God made in the garden of Eden.

And this promise is found in Gen 3:15 – so, let me read that for you…

God speaking to the serpent said…..“And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.””

We shall mediate on this promise by asking the following 4 questions:

1) Why did God make this promise?

2) What does this promise mean?

3) How did God fulfil this promise?

4) What does this promise have to do with us today?

It is my desire that at the end of this sermon, you will be full of praise for this God who kept His promise in Jesus Christ.

It is my desire that you will seek Him personally and have Him as your God.

And may that bring you true joy during this season of the year.

Let’s start with our first question.

1) Why did God make this promise?

Because man fell into sin & cannot save himself from sin.

But God was gracious and He made this promise to save His people.

The first verse in the bible says “In the beginning, God created the heavens & the earth” – Gen 1:1

And God brought into being everything that was made, including man & woman.

And “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” – Gen 1:31

But something happened in Genesis 3 that changed all that.

It was the entrance of sin into this world.

The serpent deceived the woman into disobeying an explicit instruction from God.

And by that one act of disobedience, all of mankind fell into sin.

Now, who is this serpent who deceived the woman mentioned in Gen 3:1?

Rev 12:9 tells us that “…this serpent of old..” is “..called the Devil and Satan…”.

He is one of “..the angels who did not keep their proper domain…” mentioned in Jude v6.

Our Lord Jesus calls him the “evil one” in Matt 13:19.

He also calls him the “ruler of this world” in John 12:31.

The Apostle Paul calls him the “god of this age” & the “prince of the power of the air” in 2 Cor 4:4 & Eph 2:2 respectively

Why is Satan called “ruler of this world”, “god of this age” & “prince of the power of the air”?

Because after man sinned against God, we are all under the bondage of sin.

And 1 John 3:8 tells us that “He who sins is of the devil….”

Jesus says in John 8:44 – “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do…”

That means we will act like the devil – rebellious against God.

We have no interest in the things of God.

We have no ability to understand the things of God.

Our natural state is to do what pleases the devil and what pleases our flesh.

And if we continue in this state, there is only one ending & it is not a happy one.

We will end up where the devil will be.

2 Pet 2:4 tells us – “….God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgement.” – that’s where we will end up!

But the scary thing is that because of our fallen nature, we don’t even realise we are associated with Satan.

So, if there is any hope for us, God has to initiate salvation for us.

And we thank God that He made this promise to save His people.

From Gen 3:14-19, God pronounced judgement for the sin that man committed.

This tells us that our God is a God of wrath & He is a righteous judge.

There are consequences for sin.

And we need to realise this even for ourselves today.

But the good news is that even as God pronounced His judgement, He also announced His redemption promise in Gen 3:15.

He announced this promise to Adam & Eve while they were still sinners.

He announced this on the very day when they fell into sin.

He announced this at the very place where they fell into sin.

And He announced this to them so that they may be encouraged & have hope.

So we see that while God is a righteous Judge, He is also a God of grace.

Why did God make this promise?

God made this promise so that sinful man may know that their hope is not in themselves.

And the way back to God is not by their own works or methods.

It has to be through God who made the promise to save.

It has to be by the seed of the woman that He promised in Gen 3:15.

And that brings us to our second question for today.

2) What does this promise mean?

Listen again to what God said to the serpent in Gen 3:15.

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”

This verse tells us that 3 things that will happen from Gen 3 onwards:

a) First, the woman & Satan will become enemies

The woman had thought that the serpent was a friend and she placed her trust in him.

But God is going to change that.

He will open the eyes of the woman & her seed so that they will see that the serpent is indeed wicked.

And there will be enmity between the woman and the serpent.

Henceforth, there will be 2 different groups of people in the world –

… the “seed of the woman” & the “seed of the serpent”.

The “seed of the woman” are the Godly descendants of the woman chosen by God throughout history.

The “seed of the serpent” are the people whom Satan will use as his agents to destroy the “seed of the woman”.

And the “seed of the woman” and the “seed of the serpent” will be enemies to each other.

b) Secondly, coming from the woman will be a Seed who will strike Satan & totally destroy him

Satan was the one who caused man to fall into sin.

But now, a Man – from the “Seed of the woman” will come and defeat him totally.

This Man will “bruise the head” of the serpent.

The amplified bible translates this phrase as “fatally bruise” – which means total destruction.

In other words, there will be a Man from the Godly descendants of the woman who will strike a decisive blow on Satan.

And by this decisive blow, He will save God’s people from their fallen state of sin.

c) Thirdly, as this promised Seed strikes Satan, He Himself will be wounded.

That is what the last part of verse 15 means when it says “….And you (that is Satan) shall bruise His heel.”

Gen 3:15 is the first prophesy in the bible concerning our promised Saviour Jesus Christ.

As the old testament unfolds itself, the revelations about Jesus becomes clearer & more specific.

This verse tells us that OT history is actually about God unfolding His plans to redeem His people back to Himself.

Sometimes, we read stories in the old testament and we just apply their morals as lessons for our lives.

This is not wrong in and of itself.

But remember, these stories are building blocks towards the coming of the Promised Seed.

So, if we fail to see how these stories fit into God’s salvation plan for His people, you missed the big picture altogether.

Let me illustrate what I mean as we come to our 3rd question for today –

3) How did God fulfil this promise?

From the end of Gen 3, the “seed of the serpent” will keep trying to stop the promised Seed from being born.

The “seed of the serpent” appeared in the form of Cain in Gen 4.

And Cain killed Abel – the “seed of the woman”.

Very often, when we come to this story, we tend to focus on what Cain & Abel did in their lives.

For example, Cain gave vegetables as an offering to God.

He was presumptuous, disrespectful and disobedient to God’s commands..

On the other hand, Abel gave an animal as an offering.

He was obedient, compliant and faithful.

And as a result, God accepted Abel’s offering but not Cain’s.

And we learn from their respective actions what pleases or displeases God.

Now, that is not wrong in and of itself.

But what is the bigger picture of that story?

The “seed of the serpent” acting through Cain tried to exterminate the “seed of the woman”.

Abel was killed & it looked like all was lost for the “seed of the woman”.

Is God going to fail in fulfilling His covenant promise?

No, He raised up Seth (in Gen 5) to continue the Godly heritage.

And this cycle of animosity between the “seed of the woman” & “the seed of the serpent” continued.

The “seed of serpent” caused the descendants of Seth to sin by ungodly marriages in Gen 6.

But God preserved Noah.

And the “seeds of the serpent” tried to unite together at the Tower of Babel – Gen 11.

But God raised up Abraham.

And God renewed His covenant of the Promised Seed to Abraham in Gen 15.

But then, there was trouble even in Abraham’s family line.

And it looked like the house of Jacob would be exterminated by a famine in Gen 42.

But God preserved it by the ministry of Joseph.

And then, it looked like Pharoah would wipe out the “seed of the woman” in Exodus 1.

But God delivered them by a mighty hand through Moses.

All these men of faith were raised by God to continue the Godly heritage.

And they were images of the Promised Seed who was to come – Jesus Christ!

At every juncture in OT history, there were times when it looked hopeless for God’s people.

For eg, in 2Kings 6:28, the people of God degraded to a state where they had to eat their own children to survive.

And we ask ourselves: why does the bible record such things?

They are there to remind us that God had not forgotten His covenant promise in Gen 3:15.

The situation may look hopeless.

But God will raise up someone to continue the Godly heritage.

Because our God is a faithful God and He will keep His covenant promise!

And this was the case even at the lowest point of Israel’s history.

When all its people were exiled and in captivity.

Yet, God preserved a remnant for Himself.

He brought them back & they reconstructed the temple of God.

And at last, in the fullness of time, the promised Seed of the woman appeared –

He was conceived by the Holy Spirit & born of a virgin.

The “Christmas” story is not about singing carols on a cold winter night.

Instead, it says in Matt 1:21 “…you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

This is the fulfilment of God’s promise in Gen 3:15!

We further read in 1 John 3:8b “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested….

(and what is the purpose of this manifestation?) – that He might destroy the works of the devil.”!

The promised “Seed of the woman” – Jesus Christ has come!

God has fulfilled His covenant promise!

But wait, the “seed of the serpent” continued his evil schemes even on the Promised Seed.

The devil himself tried to tempt Jesus in Matt 4.

And the Scribes & the Pharisees tried to trap Him throughout His life on earth.

But each time, this God-Man Jesus Christ “learned obedience through what He suffered” – Heb 5:8.

And He remained sinless even though He lived in a sinful world.

Finally, the “seed of the serpent” acted through Judas Iscariot.

And Judas caused the Promised Seed to be taken & nailed to the Cross.

But this incident “which bruised His heel” became the final blow that “crushed the Serpent’s head”.

When Jesus wash hung on the Cross in John 19:30, He cried out & said: “It is finished.”!

Why finished? Because He had accomplished what was necessary to restore His people back to Himself.

Because by His death He represented the death of his people so that all their sins are paid for.

By His sinless life, His righteousness is imputed to them so that they are righteous before a Holy God.

He rose from the dead & through Him, His people have life.

So by being bruised, He crushed Satan decisively.

And he fulfilled God’s covenant promise in Gen 3:15.

This is the victory of the God-Man Jesus Christ – the Promised Seed of the woman!

Perhaps this morning you were hoping to hear a sentimental Christmas message about shepherds & angels singing.

But the real “Christmas” story is about a faithful God fulfilling His covenant promise to redeem His people from their fallen state of sin!

This is the Gospel of Grace – the good news of Jesus Christ for everyone He calls into His kingdom!

Let’s come now to our final question for today & with that with that we will close.

4) What does this promise have to do with us today?

Well, after God made this promise to redeem His people, He made “coats of skin” to cover Adam & Eve – Gen 3 v21.

These coats of skin taught Adam & Eve 2 key lessons:

1) Firstly, a life had to be given up in order to cover them.

The coats of skin came from an animal that was killed.

And throughout the old testament, animal offerings were used to illustrate & re-inforce this point so that man understands that their promised Saviour will give His life for them.

2) Secondly, God was the one who provided this covering to Adam & Eve.

God was the one who went looking for them after they sinned.

God was the one who pronounced judgement upon them.

God was also the one who provided them with the means to get back to Him.

And this gracious God kept His promise!

He ensured that Jesus the promised Seed came & accomplished salvation for His people.

It has been over 2,000 years since Jesus rose & returned to heaven.

The Bible says He will come back again soon.

This time, He is not coming to deal with the sins of His people any more.

Instead, He is coming to take His people to heaven. – Heb 9:28

He is not coming as a suffering Saviour.

He is coming as a victorious King.

There are only 2 groups of people in this world.

Those who remain as the “seed of the serpent”.

And those who desire to be restored to God through Jesus Christ.

These are the ones who are eagerly waiting for Jesus to come back to take them to heaven.

The question we need to ask ourselves this Sunday morning is this – “Are you one of them”?

If so, let the people around you know that you believe in Jesus and want to be associated with Him.

Tell the world that you belong to Him by obeying Him in the command to be baptised.

Be part of the local church where all the redeemed believers come together to worship God regularly.

The days of grace will not last forever.

There was a man by the name of Noah in Gen 6.

God told him to build an ark because a global flood will be coming to destroy all living things.

Noah preached before the rain started.

Everyone thought he was foolish because they couldn’t see a cloud in the sky.

But when the storm came, the door to the ark was already closed.

And it was too late for anyone else to get in.

Noah & the ark is not a children’s story.

It is a reminder of the terror of God’s judgement.

It is also a reminder of God’s grace in preserving Noah – a seed of the woman – that His promise may be fulfilled.

My friends, do not delay your return to God if He is calling you today.

You won’t know when God may just take away your life.

That would be too late.

Don’t be the “seed of the serpent” – come to Jesus, the promised Seed of the woman instead.

Let us pray.

Neh 10:30 – Be not unequally yoked…

We would not give our daughters as wives to the peoples of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons. Neh 10:30

2 Cor 6:14 exhorts us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. This reinforces the principle of Pro 13:20 – “..he who walks with wise men will be wise…“. Whoever we associate ourselves with will have their values influence ours. If our inner circle of friends are unbelievers, unwittingly, our minds will be influenced by their values, priorities, words & actions without our realisation.

Here in Neh 10:30, the principle is extended to marriage. The people of God should not be united in marriage with unbelievers. Who you choose as your life partner will determine the course of your life. Take heed!

What should you look for when seeking a life partner?

1 Pet 3:3-4 exhorts wives – “Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”

If this is what scriptural wives ought to be like, it means that the scriptures are directing us not to seek the external appearances, but the inner traits of character & grace in a prospective life partner. Why? Because external appearances will fade away. But character & grace are what pleases God & will last for life. These are the traits that you must find compatibility in when you seek your prospective spouse. Do read this short article from Desiring God on the 6 traits to look out for in a spouse!

1 Kings 21:25 – stirred to do evil by his wife

1 Kings 21:25 “But there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife stirred him up.” 

Ahab was an evil king. The bible says he “sold himself to do wickedness..”. And he did this because “Jezebel his wife stirred him up”. There is no excuse for Ahab. He had to take ownership for his evil actions. He cannot blame his sins on Jezebel. We may be enticed to sin, but we are all responsible for our own sins. Eze 18:4 reminds us that “..the soul who sins shall die.” 

But notice the influence that Ahab’s wife Jezebel had on him. The verse tells us that Ahab was “stirred up” by Jezebel to do evil. How could this happen? Isn’t the husband suppose to lead and rule? Was it simply because Jezebel had a domineering character? Let’s consider other parts of the bible that may give us clues to this matter.

Gen 3:16 says of the women “…your desire shall be for your husband,..” – NKJV. The innate meaning of this phrase is brought out in the NLT version which translates it as – “..you will desire to control your husband..“. In other words, while the husband is to rule & lead the relationship, there will be a desire by the wife to prescribe how she likes things to be. We see this manifested in the relationship between Abraham & Sarah. While Sarah was hailed as a submissive wife in 1 Pet 3:6, there were instances where this desire to “control” Abraham played up.

God had specifically promised that Abraham will have as many descendants as the stars in the sky. Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 but they still did not have any children. Perhaps Sarah was getting impatient. Perhaps she was simply feeling insecure. She probably didn’t like the feeling of being the cause of Abraham not having any children. Hence, she suggested that Abraham have a child with her maidservant Hagar (Gen 16:2). Why would any woman ever make such a suggestion? Some historians suggested that this was the practice & culture at that point in time. But this was clearly against the revealed will of God. I am inclined to think that it was because she felt insecure and wanted to maintain control of the situation. She wanted her family to appear complete – with children as God had promised. And there was no way she could make that happened. Hence, she directed her husband Abraham to have a child with Hagar.

And as in all situations when we fail to obey God’s revealed will, there were consequences. So, after Hagar conceived, she despised Sarah. And in reaction to this, Sarah blamed everything on Abraham – Gen 16:5 “Then Sarai said to Abram, “My wrong be upon you! I gave my maid into your embrace; and when she saw that she had conceived, I became despised in her eyes. The LORD judge between you and me.” And we were told in Gen 16:6 that Sarai dealt harshly with Hagar – who was pregnant. How evil of Sarai and how very unreasonable! Wasn’t she the one who suggested this plan in the first place? What could have invoked such cruel behaviour from her? Once again, I am inclined to believe that it was because she felt she was losing control. When a woman goes into such frenzy, we are reminded of the truths in Prov 21:9; 21:19; 25:24 – that it is “better to dwell in the corner of a housetop or wilderness than in a house with a contentious woman“.

When we read of such things in the scriptures, we are sad and reminded of how terrible a state sin has brought about in us. There are important lessons we can learn here:

1) As partners in life, a wife can be a blessing or a curse to husbands. John Wesley had a wife known to be unhelpful to his ministry. She was apparently suspicious of every woman he spoke to, thereby limiting his ministry in so many ways. Why did she do that? I can only think of the truth conveyed in Gen 3:16 that she felt insecure and wanted absolute control of her husband. Hence, it is important that young men do not seek wives based on their appearances or capabilities. These may become snares to them later in their life and relationship. Character & grace should be the most important criteria for what young men seek in their prospective life partners. These are the traits that will last. Similarly, young women should seek such traits in their prospective life partners. Otherwise, they will lack the spiritual leadership that they desire.

2) The challenge laid out for the husband is a tough one. He is to love his wife sacrificially, just like how Christ loved the Church and gave Himself to redeem her. The husband is not to submit to the wife. Instead, he is to lovingly influence her and stir up in her love and good works. This can only be done with great wisdom in handling the various situations that will be encountered in the life together. And this wisdom can only come about with much prayer and devotion to God.

3) When made aware of this truth conveyed in Gen 3:16, a couple ought to prayerfully submit themselves to God for protection. Wives in particular ought to resist the temptation of desiring to “control” their husbands. Husbands ought to protect their wives by not letting them feel any sense of “losing” control, lest they get tempted to manifest irrational behaviour.

We should note that in spite of what Sarah had done, she was hailed as an example of faith in Heb 11:11. She was also commended for her submission to Abraham in 1 Pet 3:6. How can this be for all the apparent evil she committed in the saga with Hagar? Unless her sins are erased by a Saviour who gave Himself to redeem her. And this is the hope that all of us have when we confess our sins to Jesus – the promised Seed in Gen 3:15 who bruised the serpent’s head.

Let us be instructed by the lesson of the scriptures here.

 

Judges 16:20 – He did not know that the lord had departed from him…

“And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” So he awoke from his sleep, and said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!” But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him.” ‭‭Judges‬ ‭16:20‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Samson did not realise that the LORD had departed from him. Let us ask several questions related to this matter:

Is Samson a believer, a Christian in the Old Testament?

Heb 11:32 named Samson as one of the heroes of faith. This confirms that he was a believer, an Old Testament saint. The scriptures tell us that his life does not reflect well of a believer. Yet, God used him to bless Israel. But God also heavily chastised him to bring him back to the right path. This is a key sign of a believer – he will repent of his sins because God will work is us to do so.

What does it mean that God “departed” from him?

If we believe that Samson was a believer, how could it be that the LORD departed from him? Would the Holy Spirit ever leave a believer? No! But a believer can be living in sin and grieving the Holy Spirit. In this case, his sense of the presence of God in His life can be so weak that it could feel as if God was not with Him at all. The Holy Spirit could be grieved and withhold His grace in influencing us. How sad a situation! Samson did not even realise that the LORD was not with him. May God help us that we do not decline to such a state.

How can we avoid this experience of Samson?

“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” ‭‭James‬ ‭4:7-8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬.

JuJThe bible teaches us to “put off” our old ways and “put on” Godly practices. We are not to “put off” and be left with a void. We are to actively “put on” that which is good. The Apostle James teaches us to “resist and flee from the devil”. He did not stop there. He exhorted us to “draw near to God”. This is the simple prescription to avoid the sad state that Samson fell into.

1 Kings 18:21 – Wavering between 2 positions

1 Kings 18:21

And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word. (NKJV)

Elijah was speaking to the Israelites. They had the privilege of knowing the true God of heaven and earth. They had a God-given heritage of being the descendants of Abraham. Yet, they pursued idol worship. Why was idol worship so attractive to them? What did it offer that the people were willing to give their lives to it? Perhaps it provided a tangible view and association to the object of worship. But God, the Creator of the heavens & the earth tell us that we should “not make any image of God and bow down to it”. This is because God is Spirit. When Moses met God on Mt Sinai, he saw no form of God. We are therefore not to imagine or constrain God to be of a particular form.

In the new testament, we are taught that the Son of God (the 2nd person of the Holy Trinity) came in the form of a Man. While we know that He came in the form of a Man, we are not to imagine His face or features because these were not recorded for us. The only instruction we have is to worship God in Spirit & truth. In other words, the object of our worship is the truth He has reviewed about Himself in His word alone. Anything aside from that would be idolatry.

Who is your God today? It has to be the God reviewed to us in the Bible. Any other thing would constitute idolatry. And you can’t straddle between opinions or “sit on the fence”. The prophets of Baal learnt their lesson when they did not choose the God of the Bible. You will likewise perish unless you have the God of Elijah as your God. Seek Him today in the scriptures!

Questions for meditation:

1) If the God reviewed in the bible is real, how much do you know about Him? What actions are you taking to know more about Him?

What you can pray for:

1) Lord, please reveal yourself to me in your word. Help me understand it. Open my eyes to see great and wonderful things.