Given as a devotional for the saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO, on 6/10/01
"And Petros (Peter) says to them, 'Repent and be baptized, each of you in the name of Yah Shua Messiah (Jesus Christ) to the forgiveness of sins, and take the gratuity of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38, exeGeses Bible).
We began this discussion last Sunday, which was the Day of Pentecost in the Jewish Calendar. (End Note "A"). To quickly review, we learned that fire in the Bible is a symbol of God's presence, His glory, His power, His authority and His judgment. He poured out Himself on the disciples on the Day of Pentecost, evidenced by tongues of fire that sat on each disciple's head. The Apostle Peter said that this majestic outpouring was the fulfillment of Joel's prophecy, "'And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; yea, and on my menservants and my maidservants in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy" (Acts 2:17-18, RSV). What the Lord would have us know about that is that in times past, He appeared to only a precious few in power and glory, in order to get His purposes accomplished on earth, but in these last days, He has poured out His spirit on ALL FLESH, men and women, boys and girls.
Understanding the Old Covenant helps us to appreciate the New One, which was paid for by the blood of Christ, and ratified or confirmed by God with Power, on the Day of Pentecost. The Tabernacle had three parts to it: an outer court, (Ex. 38: 9-20) which held the bronze basin or laver in which Aaron and his sons washed themselves with water before offering sacrifices to the Lord (Ex. 30:18-20; I Kings 7:23-25), and the great altar (Ex. 40:6-8; Kings 16:15), on which they offered their sacrifices to God. The tent of meeting itself contained two chambers, the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. In the Holy Place, was the lamp stand (Ex. 25: 31-35; 40:24) the table of the Bread of the Presence (Ex. 25:30; Num. 4:7; I Sam. 21:6; I Kings 7:48; Heb. 9:2), and the altar of incense (Ex. 30:1-10). The people were commanded to bring pure olive oil (that which was taken from the first pressing) for the lamps (Ex. 27:20). The graphic on this page illustrates the type of lamp the ancient Hebrews used. Aaron was to keep the lamps burning continually from evening to morning (Ex. 27:21; Lev. 23:1-4) as a symbol of God's presence among them. They were to take fine flour and bake 12 loaves, one for each tribe, and "set them in two rows, six in a row, upon the table of pure gold." This bread, replaced every Sabbath, was for Aaron and his sons to eat in a holy place (Lev. 23: 5-9). The term, "bread of the presence" is most significant because Jesus said of Himself, that He is the bread from heaven. Comparing Himself to the manna God gave the Israelites in the wilderness (Jn. 6:31-33), He said of Himself, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh" (John 6:51, RSV).
Between the Holy Place and the most Holy Place, was a curtain to keep people out and presumably to keep God in. It was "of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubim shall it be made" (Ex. 26:31-33; 40:21). The Hebrew writer tells us that the Most Holy Place, contained "...the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, which contained a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat" (Heb. 9:4,5, RSV). Last week, we talked about the fact that since the presence of God was manifested in the holy of holies, only the High Priest could go in, and if he were not cleansed, he would die. God met with them "above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are upon the ark of the testimony" and there gave them His commandments ( Ex. 25:22, RSV). When Jesus died, the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom (Matt. 27:51; Mk. 15:38; Lk. 23:34), and thus the barrier between God and man was destroyed. The power, which had been reserved for the Jews, flowed out to all people (Lk. 2:10, 25-33; Jn. 1:9; Heb. 9:26). Through Jesus' death on the cross, we all were reconciled to God. II Cor. 5:18-19 is a great description of what God confirmed on the Day of Pentecost. Paul wrote, "All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." (II Cor. 5:18-20, RSV). The disciples were speaking to the people with tongues of fire on their heads, and were understood by every man, no matter what language he spoke. As God's Ambassadors of the hour, they were preappointed, chosen before the foundation of the world (II Tim. 1:9), to deliver God's Good News to their generation.
I want you to see that the Day of Pentecost was not just for the first century, not just for the Apostle's Day. God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34; Rom. 2:11). What He did for them, He does for us. God has always empowered His servants with the Holy Ghost to do the job He called them to do. Thus, in the case of the building of the Tabernacle, He filled the workmen with His Spirit, and gave them the "ability to do every sort of work done by a craftsman or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet stuff and fine twined linen, or by a weaver, by any sort of workman or skilled designer" (Ex. 35:35). Chapter 36:1, contains an important point for us today. It says that Bezalel and Oholiab and others were given the ability and intelligence "to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary." Why? So that they could "work in accordance with all that the LORD has commanded."
All through the Bible, God visited His power upon men to carry out a task. We talked last week about Elijah the prophet, who withstood the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. God did not send him out there without power. He authorized Elijah to speak for Him, to act on His behalf, to bring the "good news" to the hapless children of Israel, that there is but one God and He is the Lord (I Kings 18:38-39). Paul said that all of God's mighty miracles through Moses were to show that, "...it depends not upon man's will or exertion, but upon God's mercy. For the scripture says to Pharaoh, "I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth"" (Rom. 9:16,17, RSV). The reason for all the miracles and displays of His power both then and now is so that the children of men might see the hand of God and believe. He never calls us to do a task but what He provides us with the power with which to do it. When that happens, like the Israelites on Mount Carmel, we fall on our faces and declare, "The Lord, He is God!" (I Kings 18:39).
On the day of Pentecost, when power flowed from heaven and appeared as tongues of fire on their heads, Peter was empowered to speak the oracles of God. What a contrast he was to the "spineless wonder," who just 50 days before, had denied his Lord (Matt. 26:34; Mk. 14:30; Lk. 22:34), not once, but three times! Did you ever wonder why that happened? Two things occur to me at once: 1). When he told Jesus he would die rather than forsake Him, he was speaking out of his own flesh, out of his own strength, out of his own self efforts. When the cock crowed, and he remembered what Jesus had said, he went out and wept bitterly (Matt. 26:75; Mk. 14:72). Self effort is always doomed to fail, which is why the Law had to be replaced with the New Covenant. 2). Lest we be too hard on old Peter, who had the zeal but not the power, it comes to me as I write this that God used him as a horrible example of what happens when we try to serve him after the flesh. Serving God in the flesh was what the law was all about. According to the bilateral (two party) agreement God made with Moses, they were to obey Him and serve Him, and IF they did that, He would bless them. If they did not, then all the curses of the Law would fall upon them. If you have a few moments, read Deut., Chapter 28, to see what good things would befall them if they obeyed and what horrible curses would happen to them if they failed. The book of Hebrews is very plain about the inadequacy of the law. Why was it inadequate, when the Psalmist and James said it was perfect (Ps. 19:7; James 1:25), and the Apostle Paul said it was holy? (Rom. 7:12).
According to Paul, the Law pointed out our sin, and it did a very good job of that (Rom. 7:7-8), but in terms of making us perfect, it could not, because it depended on our efforts. The Mosaic Law was a two party covenant, and since man was never able to obey it, the Law made nothing and no one perfect (Heb. 7:19; 10:1). I would really encourage you to read Hebrews, Chapters 7, 8, 9, and 10 on this topic, but here's a few verses that make the point for us today: "When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption" (Heb. 9:11-12). The law was only a shadow of things to come (Heb. 10:10). Christ was the substance, the reality to which the Law pointed (Lk. 24:44).
Moses, acting under God's command, sprinkled the tent and the vessels and the people themselves with the blood of the covenant (Heb. 9:19-21), because "under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins" (Vs. 22). Christ entered the "sanctuary not made with hands....to appear in the presence of God on our behalf" (Vs. 24). The result is that, "He has appeared once for ALL at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Vs. 26). The Hebrew writer is very clear that the New Covenant is far superior to the old one, for after all, it was impossible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sin (Heb. 10:4). The Old Covenant that He made with the house of Israel depended on their efforts, their strength, and their willingness to obey God. Like Peter, when he declared passionately that he would die before he would betray Christ, they just couldn't live up to it. The Old Testament is a long and heart wrenching story of man's disobedience to God and of God's mercy and long-suffering toward men. The New Covenant does NOT depend on man's efforts, but on God's promise to Abraham that in His seed (Christ), (End Note "B"), would all families of the earth be blessed (Gen. 22:18; 26:4; 28:14). Here is the essence of the New Covenant: "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more" (Heb. 8:10-12, NIV).
The sin problem has been taken care of! (Rom. 6:14,17-18,22; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; Heb. 8:12; I Jn. 3:9). It was dealt a fatal blow on the cross, but the best news is that in addition to this wonderful free gift of God, we also received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Christ IS the Spirit, Paul tells us: "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (II Cor. 3:17, RSV). Do you remember that Christ told His followers that He was going to prepare a place for them? (Jn. 14:3). Most of the church world thinks He meant He was going to prepare a home in heaven for them to enjoy after they die. By the Spirit, I have come to see that we don't have to wait until we die to reach this marvelous place Christ has prepared for us. In this passage, Jesus said, "And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also" (John 14:3, RSV).
Here's the account of Jesus going away from them, i.e., ascending into heaven: "And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven"" (Acts 1:10,11, RSV). The angel told them that He would come back in the same way they saw Him go into heaven. Where did the power come from on the Day of Pentecost? "Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind CAME FROM HEAVEN and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them" (Acts 2:2-4). Open your hearts and allow the Lord to show you what He showed me about this remarkable occurrence. The Day of Pentecost was the second coming of the Lord, folks, the "first" second coming. There have been MANY comings of the Lord since and will continue to be, but He came this day, the same way that He left, out of heaven and out of their sight, and He brought with Him "in Spirit" the place He had prepared for them. Think about it this way. While He was here on earth, Jesus was limited by time and space as to how many He could minister to at one time. Yet, He promised that He would never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5); He said to His disciples before He left them, "....I am with you always, to the close of the age"" (Matt. 28:20, RSV). Later in the book of Acts, Luke reports that "Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word" (Acts 8:4, KJV. See also Acts 11:19). I submit to you that if Jesus had not come back in Spirit, His being with each of them all the time would have been impossible to accomplish in a physical body. This is why He told them, "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you" (John 16:7, KJV).
On the Day of Pentecost, with the sound of a mighty wind from heaven, the Counselor, the Comforter did come to fill the hearts of men and women whom God called to receive Him. He is still coming to this day in the same manner. I said last week, and repeat again, that when God calls us to obey Him, it is easy to do because He gives us the power to do it. Under the Old Covenant, the Law, we would have been operating under our own steam, but under the New Covenant, praise God, we have the indwelling Christ to do God's will through us. "It is not I," Paul said, "but Christ who lives in me" (Gal. 2:20). Christ is the seed of God (Gal. 3:16) which was planted by divine power and authority in my heart and in yours. He is growing up within us as we become a mature son of God. We are being transformed into the image and likeness of God's first born son, so that He would be the first fruits of many brethren (Rom. 8:29). It is not our own power or authority that sustains us. That would hardly get us to first base in our spiritual life. To knock a home run out of the ball park, as Peter did on the Day of Pentecost, we need the power from on High that is available to every believer.
If your spiritual life seems a bit drab, and every activity you attempt for God takes all your efforts just to do it, turn yourself in right now to God, and ask Him to baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire (End Note "C"), as John the Baptist prophesied (Matt. 3:11; Lk. 3:16). When He baptizes you with fire and Spirit, at that moment, He takes you to the place He has prepared for you, "in Spirit." When we enter this place with Him, we have gone through the veil into the Most Holy Place, which I believe is another meaning of the word translated, "heaven." We are truly in "heavenly places" (Eph. 1:3,20; 2:6; 3:10), when we are operating out of the power of the Spirit. We have entered into the rest, spoken of in Heb. 4:9-10: "So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God; for whoever enters God's rest also ceases from his labors as God did from his." Let us cease from our own labors, and allow God to flow through us to will and to do of His good pleasure (Eph. 1:9; Phil. 2:13). We praise God that His is the power to keep us from falling and to present us "faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy; To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen" (Jude 24-25).
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO, 64850 (Snail Mail)
End Note "A," "Power from on High, Part I"
End Note "B," "The Seed of God," by Lenny
End Note "C," "Baptized with Fire," by Lenny
"Following the Glory," by Jan
The Glory Road
We always enjoy hearing from you!
This page was uploaded to the web
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister, on 6/9/01
and last edited on 11/03/08.