It Is Finished

Exodus 27.9
[God said,] “You shall make the court of the tabernacle.”

The tabernacle covered over 11,000 square feet at the center of Israel’s nomadic camp and was the fulcrum of ancient Jewish society. The writers of scripture occasionally referred to it as the “tent of meeting,” revealing its role as the seat of early Israeli culture, politics, and jurisprudence. 

“Tent of dwelling” is the more common term to describe the tabernacle, and gets at the transcendent purpose it served for Israel. Everything in the tabernacle is designed to bring man into communion with God.

Instruction for the tabernacle’s design is fastidious and consumes one-third of the chapters in the book of Exodus. Every object is meticulously detailed, all the way down to pegs for the sacrificial tools and fasteners on the priestly garments.

One object is conspicuously absent: a seat for the priest. 

Sacrificing animals that weigh hundreds of pounds would have been exhausting. Serving all day in the heat of the Near East would have made it more difficult. Yet the ancient priest never sat down because the work of atonement was never complete.

The author of the book of Hebrews describes Christ as “our great high priest.” Jesus, Hebrews says, “entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.”

The New Testament’s vision for God’s presence in daily life is no less central than that of the tabernacle. It is however, no longer contingent on humanity’s sacrifices, mediated by earthly priests, or centered on a building.

The reason for this, Hebrews reveals, is stunning; “When Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.” 

The sacrificial system isn’t gone because humankind evolved to more civil forms of worship. We no longer sacrifice because the final sacrifice has been made on our behalf. The great high priest sits because the work is complete.

Prayer
God, thank you for ending the sacrificial system by paying a price we were unable to pay. Thank you that the work of faith is no longer about restoring our relationship with you. Strengthen us to respond in joy, cultivating what you have given us through grace so that others see, experience, and respond to your never-ending love for us.

Today’s Readings
Exodus 27 (Listen – 2:52)
John 6 (Listen – 8:27)

Ancient Symbols, Modern Faith
Part 1 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ___________________________________

The Promise of the Gospel

John 3.16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

If people know only the basics about Christ they usually know the verse above, the tension he had with the pharisees, and the story of the cross and resurrection. Our minds often default to picturing Jesus delivering teachings like John 3.16 while surrounded by agreement and joyful response. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

The observation of John 3.16 is that God loves the world and gave his Son. This reality is radically different than the religious options Jesus’ audience had. Most gods don’t love the world; they want to see it destroyed. Jesus’ Father was so set on redeeming the world he sacrificed his son to make it possible.

The promise of John 3.16 is that whoever believes shall not perish, but have life. But who is this promise for? At the moment Jesus is not talking to the faithful; he is talking to a Pharisee named Nicodemus. 

The Pharisees were the sworn enemies of Christ. They disdained him, betrayed him, took glee at his beating, and relished in his execution. John 3.16 is a promise for the enemies of Christ. 

Before we distance ourselves from this group we must remember Nicodemus was an enemy of Christ not because he was a Pharisee, but because he was sinful — he sought his greatest good in himself (and his religious performance) instead of in God.

“The covenant of grace is excellently fitted to bring us to the chiefest good,” writes the puritan Samuel Annesley. “Now the chiefest good consists in communion with God. That was broken by sin; and can never be perfectly recovered, until sin is abolished.” 

“Therefore,” Annesley continues, “when the guilt of sin is taken away by justification, and the filthiness of sin is taken away by sanctification, and the penalty of sin taken away by resurrection, then what can hinder our communion with God? When we have once obtained perfect holiness, nothing can hinder us of perfect happiness. Thus you have the promise of the gospel.”

Prayer
Lord, thank you for loving us before we loved you. Thank you for sending your Son to live the life we should have lived and die the death we deserve to die. Thank you for offering us your grace, so richly and so fully. Renew our hearts though your love.

Today’s Readings
Exodus 24 (Listen – 2:48)
John 3 (Listen – 4:41)

Hope in the Darkness
Part 5 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

 ___________________________________

This Weekend’s Readings

Saturday: Exodus 25 (Listen – 4:20); John 4 (Listen – 6:37)
Sunday: Exodus 26 (Listen – 4:18); John 5 (Listen – 5:42)

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ___________________________________

TBT: Concerning the Resurrection

John 2.19
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

TBT: Concerning the Resurrection | by John of Damascus (676-749 C.E.)

For if there is no resurrection, let us eat and drink: let us pursue a life of pleasure and enjoyment. If there is no resurrection, let us hold the wild beasts of the field happy who have a life free from sorrow. If there is no resurrection, neither is there any God nor Providence, but all things are driven and borne along of themselves. 

For observe how the righteous suffer hunger and injustice and receive no help in the present life, while sinners and the unrighteous abound in riches and every delight.

No, the divine Scripture bears witness that there will be a resurrection of the body. The Lord became Himself the first-fruits of the perfect resurrection that is no longer subject to death. For He said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” And the holy gospel is a trustworthy witness that He spoke of His own body.

But some one will say, How are the dead raised up? Oh, what disbelief! Oh, what folly!

Behold how the seed is buried in the furrows as in tombs. Who is it that gives them roots and stalk and leaves and ears and the most delicate beards? Is it not the maker of the universe? Is it not at the bidding of him who created all things? 

Believe, therefore, that the resurrection of the dead will come to pass at the divine will and sign. For he has power that is able to keep pace with his will.

We shall rise again, our souls being once more united with our bodies, now made incorruptible and having put off corruption, and we shall stand beside the awful judgment-seat of Christ.

But those who have done good will shine forth as the sun with the angels into life eternal, with our Lord Jesus Christ, ever seeing Him and being in His sight and deriving unceasing joy from Him, praising Him with the Father and the Holy Spirit throughout the limitless ages of ages.

Prayer
Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ: your strength has been my consolation; you have not allowed my soul to perish with the wicked; you have given me your grace, the grace of your name. Now it is time for you to fortify what you have achieved in me and so to confound the adversary’s impudence.

— Euplus, prior to his martyrdom in Sicily c. 304 C.E.

Today’s Readings
Exodus 23 (Listen – 4:44)
John 2 (Listen – 3:02)

Hope in the Darkness
Part 4 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ___________________________________

Heaven on Earth

John 1.14
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Truth incarnate is grace. Dictators speak from palaces removed from the realities of the masses. They leverage power to insulate themselves from pain and sacrifice. In contrast, 2 Corinthians reminds us of “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”

“The word became flesh” is the core of Christianity — not morality, comfort, blessing, or anything else we receive from the word. It is Christ himself who is enthroned as Christianity’s highest pursuit and greatest reward.

The heart of grace is truth. The Greeks believed in a logos — a truth on which all things are built. Modern culture questions not just the truth of the word becoming flesh, but all truth.      

“Things can be true even if no one can prove them,” philosophy professor Justin P. McBrayer explains in his New York Times piece, “Why Our Children Don’t Think There Are Moral Facts,” which explores the illogic of what is being taught as early as primary school.

“It’s a mistake,” McBrayer continues, “to confuse truth (a feature of the world) with proof (a feature of our mental lives). Furthermore, if proof is required for facts, then facts become person-relative. Something might be a fact for me if I can prove it but not a fact for you if you can’t. In that case, E=MC2 is a fact for a physicist but not for me.”

Grace and truth are the essence of Christ, and thus the pursuit of every Christian. We pursue truth, not for the desire to be right (or prove others wrong), but because the truth of Christ is life’s highest pursuit. We extend grace — to friend and enemy — because such great grace is extended to us. 

In grace and truth we celebrate and participate in the essence of heaven, which has come to earth.

Prayer
God we need your truth to break down the brokenness that destroys us, our neighbors, and our world. We need your grace to renew us and care for us as you rebuke our participation in brokenness. In you we find everything we need and all that we hope for.

Today’s Readings
Exodus 22 (Listen – 4:23)
John 1 (Listen – 6:18)

Hope in the Darkness
Part 3 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ___________________________________

The Reality of the Resurrection

Luke 24.17-19
They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked. 

I worked as a paramedic for five years while going to school for my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. One of the idiosyncrasies found in the wake of trauma is the way an injured person’s mind preoccupies itself with inconsequential details. The stress of trauma tricked more than one patient’s brain into looking over a severe injury only to fixate on the loss of a shoelace to my trauma shears

Poor decision making is, of course, not limited to trauma patients.

Leaders make bad decisions, in part, because of “inappropriate self-interest or distorting attachments,” writes Andrew Campbell in the Harvard Business Review. “Our brains can cause us to think we understand [situations] when we don’t.”

The final chapter of Luke shares the story of Jesus walking the road to Emmaus with two of his followers. They are unaware of his resurrection. It takes a seven mile walk and part of a meal for them to recognize to whom they are speaking. 

They show their dismay when Jesus asks, “What things?” in reference to the previous days’ events. The trauma of the crucifixion consumes them (rightly so). Yet their reply to Christ also reveals their own self-interest and distorting attachments. 

“We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel,” they lament. For many in Jesus’ day, “redeem Israel” had clear and immediate geo-political ramifications which were unmet. Jesus’ response reorients them.

God’s love did not deny or diminish Jesus’ suffering on earth. Yet Jesus’ words after the resurrection are almost exclusively focused on the meaning of the crucifixion rather than the pain of the event itself.

The reality of the resurrection gave Jesus’ suffering a meaning that could not be taken and a restoration of all that was lost. The reality of the kingdom took what must have felt like a thousand years of pain and eclipsed it with eternal glory.

Prayer
Lord we long for you. Today we hurt and suffer under the weight of a world which is not our home. Come quickly, Lord. Return what has been lost. Restore what has been taken. Heal the brokenhearted. Resurrect the dead. Quench every longing with your presence, Lord Jesus.

Hope in the Darkness
Part 2 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

Today’s Readings
Exodus 21 (Listen – 4:44)
Luke 24 (Listen – 6:16)

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ___________________________________

Spur a spiritual rhythm of refreshment right in your inbox
By joining this email list you are giving us permission to send you devotional emails each weekday and to communicate occasionally regarding other aspects of the ministry.
100% Privacy. We don't spam.