Posts Tagged ‘High Priest’

We Are His Body

I mentioned that from time to time I might share something interesting in my study of Ephesians. While I got a bit behind, I recently became sort of re-dedicated to having a morning quiet time, and using this time to continue in Ephesians. This morning I finished chapter 1, and something in these verses really stuck out to me. Let me see if I can re-create what I wrote in my notebook from this morning for you here.

Ephesians 1:22-23
“And God placed all things under His feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.”

While these verses speak largely about Christ’s authority as head of the church (which is consistent with the book of Hebrews, which refers to Christ as the High Priest of the church), it was a phrase right in the middle that got the wheels turning: “which is His body.”

As my mind traipsed through anatomical images and songs about this (“If We Are the Body” by Casting Crowns is what I’m referring to here; I’ve posted a video with this song below), it ended up on the Lord’s Supper. This is a notably relevant subject for me right now; this week in our Spiritual Boot Camp at church the pastor is preaching on the spiritual discipline of fasting. But Jesus broke the bread and said, “Take and eat; this is my body.” (Matthew 26:26) But the verse in Ephesians says that the church is also His body. So in a sense, the bread also symbolizes the role of the church. It pointed me to the other part of the Lord’s Supper, which I’ll hit on as part of my conclusion.

I felt like God was impressing on me an understanding here about His character, and what I was surprised to reach as my conclusion is how personal each aspect of the Trinity is in regards to the church. We often think of the church as Christ’s; after all, Jesus referred to it as His in his charge to Peter (Matthew 16:18). But if you think about what it takes to make a body worth anything but a lifeless lump of immovable mass, there are several pieces, and each part of the Trinity uniquely provides for these:

1) The Father formed the body at creation and provides sustenance (physically and through His Word).
2) The Spirit indwells the body and provides direction (by way of sanctification and spiritual growth).
3) Jesus the Son gives the body His blood and provides the means of life (eternally and salvationally).

So the body is a great picture of how personal and involved our God is within our lives individually, and also within His church as a whole. How can we do anything but act on this understanding through worship and sharing these things with others. I hope this blog encourages you as much as coming to this realization encouraged me. Let’s take great joy in being part of God’s body, and hopefully in doing so we will move forward even more boldly in our faith. I pray that God blesses each and every reader of this post as they read it. Amen!

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Jesus — Of Judah

I had a weird mental pathway today to my topic. I was thinking about looking for a commentary on Judges to see if anyone else had some interesting takes on the man Jephthah was, which led me back to my blog yesterday. I remembered Rahab and wondered if any other women would be worth mentioning in this group. Certainly some might say Ruth or Esther could be included, perhaps Hannah or Sarah or even Bathsheba. However, one crossed my mind that little is known about: Tamar. Would Tamar be worthy of such an honor? We know she was Judah’s niece and tricked him into sleeping with her to conceive a child that would be his heir, since her husband and husband’s brother were both killed by the Lord.

That put another question in my mind. Judah slept with his niece, who was masquerading as a prostitute. And yet it is this man from whom Jesus chose to be a descendant. Looking at the tribes of Israel and the men from which they came, one would suspect that Jesus would come from the line of Joseph, or perhaps Levi, since He is described in Hebrews as “High Priest,” and the Levites were the priests. But no, Jesus is the “lion of the tribe of Judah.” Why did He choose (and it most definitely was a choice; I have no desire to debate the sovereignty of God in this post) the lineage of Judah?

It got me thinking about what we really know about Judah. For starters, his name lends more to the future Messiah as one of his descendants. The name Judah is derived from the Hebrew word for praise. Joseph comes from the Hebrew for may he add, while Levi comes from the Hebrew for attached.

After Judah’s birth, we don’t hear about him again until his incident with Tamar. Genesis 38 tells this story, but at the end, it is noteworthy that Judah keeps the promise he made to Tamar in attempting to bring her a goat and honoring the cord and seal he gave to her as his sign, even though he says, “She is more righteous than I.”

However, Judah’s greatest contribution to the book of Genesis comes in chapters 43-44. Due to the famine, Jacob sends his sons (minus Benjamin) to Egypt to buy grain, and when they come to their brother Joseph (not recognizing him), they are sent back with orders to bring Benjamin with them, and Simeon is imprisoned until they come back. Judah at this point emerges as the leader and asks that Benjamin be entrusted to his care. You would think this would be the request of the firstborn, but no, Judah was 4th in line. Judah takes on the responsibility of caring for the young and inexperienced Benjamin.

As the story continues, when the brothers return Joseph secretly plants a silver cup in Benjamin’s grain sack to force Benjamin to stay in Egypt. Judah then does something that up to this point has not been done in the book of Genesis: he sacrifices himself for the good of his younger, inexperienced brother. He pleads with Joseph to let him be the one imprisoned, since Benjamin is entrusted to his care. Joseph can no longer contain himself, reveals himself to his brothers, and they lived happily ever after (er, mostly; those living in the time of Moses might disagree with the move to Egypt).

So what qualities does Judah show in his short time in Genesis? (1) He honors a covenant that he made, (2) he emerges as leader of his “people,” (3) he takes responsibility for the weak and inexperienced, and (4) he offers himself as a sacrifice for the weak, so that the weak won’t be separated from his father forever.

Anybody see the parallels between Judah and Jesus? While Judah was not perfect, he was the best example of what Jesus came to fulfill. Simeon was chosen to be imprisoned first, but he and Levi both stained their father’s name by attacking the town of the man who raped their sister. Reuben, when Joseph was sold by his brothers, merely protested but did not step in himself. No, Judah was the man who showed the character that was later made even more perfect by Jesus Christ. It is only fitting that God chose to personify Himself in the lineage of such a man who, not blameless by any stretch of the imagination, did what needed to be done to protect and bring honor to his own.

Lessons From the Torah

WIFE (stands for Woman I Find Exceptional, and how I will refer to my wife from now on) and I are reading through the entire Bible this year, and our daily plan has caused us to just now finish the book of Deuteronomy. Wow, there’s a lot of information in there, including some verses I wish I hadn’t found. But hey, they’re there for a reason. Here are a few of the things I learned from the first five books of the Bible:

1) The Israelites were some messed up people! Every time God would do an amazing miracle for them, they would complain about something else and usually reference it with “Did God lead us here to die in the desert?” Plus, some of the rules that God laid out for them I couldn’t imagine, but obviously He had to set them straight because these issues came up (if you’re wondering what issues I mean, see Deuteronomy 23; I really don’t want to list them here).

2) Moses was an amazing leader. The last few verses of Deuteronomy (I suspect written by Joshua) claim him as so, but just think about it. Can you imagine leading a group of middle-schoolers on a camping trip for 5 days? Now try doing it with an millions of people for 40 years.

3) The old covenant in no way compares to the new covenant. While both made by God, I for one am thankful that I don’t have to give an animal to the High Priest to be sacrificed every time I sin, because the world probably doesn’t have enough sheep or pigeons. Plus, I like being able to have a personal individual relationship with God, rather than having to go through the priests.

4) What happened to Simeon? In Moses’ blessings of the tribes of Israel at the end of Deuteronomy, he mentions every son of Jacob except Simeon. What did he or his people do to get left out of the blessing, and did they ever get back into God’s good graces?

5) Participate in the census. Apparently they’re important. God basically devoted a whole book of His Word to one.