Archive for September, 2013

First Night Ulladulla Festival 2013

September 28th, 2013
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Scripture Reading:  Hebrews 1-2

 This a wonderful introduction to the divine Son who enters completely in to our humanity so that we can belong to God’s family as brothers and sisters of Jesus.

 Festival Theme:

 Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. (Hebrews 2:11)

 Ray Anderson described it this way:

 It is like a child who’s been in an orphanage. He’s redeemed from the orphanage, brought into a family. Now, the child has to learn what it is to be a member of the family…

 At this festival we are learning how to behave in God’s family. We are not meant to remain unchanged but through the Holy Spirit we are made ready for our Father’s household.

 Mike Feazell:

 If you are going to sit at the family table, you do have to learn how to… you learn the language, you learn the custom, you learn how to respect people and to live within that, so that the family has its own rules…

 But we are talking about a Father who is absolutely committed to your success in sitting at that table.

 Our salvation involves learning to be in harmony with whom God is. As Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 225 AD) said:

 Who can know the truth without the help of God? Who can know God without Christ? Who has ever discovered Christ without the Holy Spirit?

 The Holy Spirit not only leads us forward to God’s future, but also brings a firstfruits of that future into our lives today. Our festival is a taste of the great family reunion we anticipate when our beloved brother appears and welcomes us home.

Jesus is the place that we meet God. He is the faithful high priest we heard from Hebrews 2. He represents us to God and God to us.

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Message for the Day

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 228 | Wed 18 Sep 2013

September 27th, 2013
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The violence in Egypt is settling into a deadly cycle: (1) The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) challenges the military; (2) the military responds with force; (3) MB supporters react with violence against Coptic Christians (whom they blame for the coup). Then the cycle starts again.

The military is exploiting sectarian violence for its own ends and cares nothing for Christians. With money coming from Saudi Arabia, it has no interest in protecting Christians but only in protecting itself. The military would kill Christians readily if it felt it were in its interests to do so. With the MB recruiting jihadis in Algeria and beyond, it has to be  anticipated that terrorism against the State and genocidal violence against the Coptic Church will increase.

Egypt and its Christians need our prayers. 

To view complete report please click here.


Holiness and Purity

September 17th, 2013
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Whenever we read any of the NT letters, we are conscious of the teaching on avoiding impure behaviour and being holy.

 An example of this is in 1 Thessalonians 4:7

For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.

 And the reason is given in 1 Thessalonians 3:13

 May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.

 Because we will be in the presence of our God and Father. We are meant to dwell intimately with a Holy God. This is something we depend totally on God to work in us.

 What is the OT background to these instructions from Paul?

 I am assuming  a knowledge of Leviticus –especially Leviticus 16—The Day of Atonement.

 I will use material from:

Introduction to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible)

Lecture 9 – The Priestly Legacy: Cult and Sacrifice, Purity and Holiness in Leviticus and Numbers [October 9, 2006]

Chapter 1. Introduction to the Israelite Sanctuary

 Degrees of accessibility:

 And within those precincts, within that enclosure, there’s a large, open courtyard. That was accessible to all Israelites. The main sacrificial altar with a large ramp stood in that courtyard as well as a basin that was there for ablutions

 And then halfway across the courtyard, there was a screen that marked the entrance to another little enclosure, which is the shrine proper, the sanctuary proper; and only priests have access to that area. The shrine or sanctuary housed an incense altar. And then on one side a seven-branched lampstand or menorah. And on the other, a table, which held loaves of bread that were changed on a weekly basis.

 The backmost square-shaped chamber of that inner shrine was the inner sanctum or the holy of holies. And that was accessible only to the high priest and only on the Day of Atonement following a series of heightened purity observances. Inside that holy of holies was the ark. It was about four feet by two-and-a-half feet. It was a wooden ark covered in gold. On top was a kind of covering.

 It’s referred to as a kapporeth: we don’t really know what this word means, it’s traditionally translated “mercy seat,” … The ark itself contained the tablets of the covenant. And so it was a testament to the covenant between God and Israel.

 Unlike most ancient sanctuaries, the Israelite sanctuary did not contain a statue of the deity. … Nevertheless, God was believed to be present in the sanctuary. Often in the form of a cloud, that will descend to fill the tabernacle, particularly as it’s assembled in a new encampment, and then God will descend down and the cloud will fill the tabernacle.

 So it is God’s presence there that sanctifies, which simply means “makes holy, makes sacred,” to sanctify, to make holy, the tabernacle. And to understand this, we need to understand the Priestly conception of holiness.

 Chapter 2. The Priestly Conceptions of Holiness and Time

 And the Hebrew word “holy” has a root meaning of separate. That which is holy is separate. It’s withdrawn from common, everyday use. In the Priestly view, only God is intrinsically holy. God can impart holiness to, he can sanctify, persons and places and things when they’re brought into a specific kind of relationship with him, a relationship that’s best described as a relationship of ownership.

 Holy is what is in God’s realm, something that’s separated to him.

 That which is outside God’s realm is common. …. This table is just profane. It’s common. It’s available for everyday use. It’s not separated or marked off for special kind of treatment because it’s holy. For a common object to become holy, you need a special act of dedication to God, an act of sanctification to transfer the thing to God or God’s realm or God’s service.

 So holiness entails necessarily separation in both its positive and negative aspects. It entails separation of an object to that which sanctifies it, which is God; …

 Holy things are holy because they are removed from the realm of the common by means of rules or safeguards that demarcate them as different and separate and determine that we use them differently. The preservation of holy status therefore depends on those rules and safeguards. Their observance protects the holy object from profanation, from being profaned, reverting from holy status back to common status.

 Now, it’s evident from the schematic representation or the way I’ve described the sanctuary that holiness increases as you move deeper into the sanctuary. And the principle here that holiness increases as proximity to God increases. The principle is graphically demonstrated in spatial terms.

 Accessibility determined by degrees of holiness

 So in the biblical view, the area or the land outside the Israelite camp is just common, profane land. The Israelite camp bears a certain degree of holiness. Then as you move in, the outer courtyard, the outer enclosure of the sanctuary, bears a slightly higher degree of holiness. It’s accessible to Israelites who are pure. The sanctuary proper, which is in closer proximity to God, bears a still higher degree of holiness: it’s accessible only to the priests, who are said to be the holy ones within Israel. And then the inner shrine is the holiest area: it’s accessible only to the holiest member of the nation, the high priest.

 You have similar concentric circles of holiness characterizing the priestly conception of time. There are ordinary, common, profane days, work days. Then there are certain holy days: for example, the New Year or the Passover holidays — that’s where our word “holiday” comes from, holy day — and they are separated and demarcated from common time by special rules that mark them as different. Holier than these days is the Sabbath, which is demarcated by even further rules and observances. And the holiest day is Yom Kippur, known as the Sabbath of Sabbaths. This day is separated from all other days by additional rules and observances in keeping with its profound holiness.

 The holiness of persons, of objects, of time and of space all converge on Yom Kippur, because it’s only on this most holy day that the most holy person, high priest, enters the most holy of holies, the innermost shrine, and performs a ritual upon the most holy of objects, the mercy seat and ark itself once a year.

 Leviticus 16:1-3, 32-34

 1 The Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died when they approached the Lord. 2 The Lord said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron that he is not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die. For I will appear in the cloud over the atonement cover.

3 “This is how Aaron is to enter the Most Holy Place: He must first bring a young bull for a sin offering[a] and a ram for a burnt offering.

32 The priest who is anointed and ordained to succeed his father as high priest is to make atonement. He is to put on the sacred linen garments 33 and make atonement for the Most Holy Place, for the tent of meeting and the altar, and for the priests and all the members of the community.

34 “This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites.”

And it was done, as the Lord commanded Moses.

In the second half we will look at the deep connection between holiness and purity.

Remember at the beginning we heard Paul say:

 1 Thessalonians 4:7

 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.

  Keith Green – Create in me a clean heart . To watch please click here

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Message for the Day