Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Christmas Devotional

In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me a pierced ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required. Then I said, "Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me: I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart."
(Psalms 40:6-8)

As Christmas time draws near, I believe it is a wonderful time for all of us to reflect not simply on the miracle of the birth of the God-Man Jesus Christ, but also a time to reflect upon our total need for Him. One of the things that I love about this passage of the Psalms is that David is speaking directly about the desires of God. Verse six starts by telling us that God doesn't delight in the sacrifices made by Israel or even in the offerings that they have given. This is something that when we think about should make us step back for a moment and ask Why. I think that the answer is clear, when we consider the purpose of the sacrifices that the Levitical priests made. The overarching purpose and plan of God was that when a person sinned, by breaking Gods law (1 John 3:4) they were required to make a sacrifice of a specific type and kind. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22 ). The purpose of this sacrifice was to delay the wrath of God. I realize that the majority of you at this moment are shouting, “No!, the purpose was to atone for sin” and I will grant that you are in a sense correct, however, the problem we see is that “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (Hebrews 10:4).” So while they did have a forgiveness, it was neither complete nor permanent. Just imagine the feeling of the Jewish believer for a moment; imagine with me that you have really screwed up, you have violated the law of God. Now, you have to go and take one of your precious flock a flawless lamb, you take it to the place where it is to be sacrificed by a priest, the preist then kills the lamb and lets the blood cover the alter. He tells you that your sin has been covered, by the blood of this lamb. You leave, yet within you, you still have guilt, grief, sorrow, because you know that while your sin is covered is it has not been fully taken away. David said it this way in Psalm 31:10 - For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away. The grief of his sin had never left him. This was the case for all old testament believers. How wearysome would that be? I would like you to consider the following questions, and consider if you still had to feel guilt. How many Lies do you think you have told in your life? How many things have you stolen? How many times have you used the name of God in a filthy way? Has God Always been first in you life? These are four of the ten commandments, part of God's moral law, that all mankind has to live under. This is the Law that is written in the hearts of men.
The next part of this verse talks about God piercing the ear of David. This is a reference to the concept of the bond servant. According to Deut. 15:16-17 if a Hebrew servant refused to leave the house of there master after 6 years, (during the year of Jubilee) they were to put an awl through there ear, and they were then consider a servant of the master for life. We should desire deeply that Pierced ear, we should desire God to have marked us, not with an awl, but with his Holy Spirit.
Finally, we then see that David is speaking in a prophetic manner when he says Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required. As we now know, we do not need any Burnt or sin offerings, because of Jesus Christ. Jesus who is the center, the earmark of this holiday season, is the one who would become our offering. I would say that when we Celebrate Christmas this year, we don't think about simply the incarnation ( literally, becoming meat – the Status of Christ Jesus) but that we think of the reason of for the incarnation. The reason is our sin. It is that we are wholly unable to attain to the standard of God's Holiness. Because of this Jesus became meat for us, he became the something so low that it is literally uncompilable for us. God took on this body and through it “Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 10:12a).” This was not like the levitical Priests who killed animal after animal, but Jesus took care of our sin “not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12).” This is why when Jesus approached John the Baptist, John cried out "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29).” The primary purpose of Jesus ministry was to seek and save that which was us (Luke 19:10). If you have been sought and saved, Jesus' Call is for you to go then and make disciples. What better time this the Christmas season, when Jesus is already on peoples minds? Let us not be content this year to give simple gifts to one another, but let us share the Good News with a lost and dying generation.

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