A Purifying Priest Presides

Malachi 3:1-3

Behold, I send My messenger,
    And he will prepare the way before Me.
    And the Lord, whom you seek,
    Will suddenly come to His temple,
    Even the Messenger of the covenant,
    In whom you delight.
    Behold, He is coming,”
    Says the LORD of hosts.

    2      “But who can endure the day of His coming?
    And who can stand when He appears?
    For He is like a refiner’s fire
    And like launderers’ soap.
    3      He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver;
    He will purify the sons of Levi,
    And purge them as gold and silver,
    That they may offer to the LORD
    An offering in righteousness."

The Lord Jesus did suddenly come to His temple. And He purified the sons of Levi. But don’t miss why: so they could offer an offering to God in righteousness.

First, We are here at the Lord’s table. Jesus comes to this, His table, every week. It is HIS table, as we are His people. We are owned, bought with a price of His blood.

Second, As He purified the sons of Levi, be on the lookout for moments when Christ will be purifying you. There are the regular means of grace, and there are the extraordinary moments. Convicting us of our error and sin is part of his grace to us.

Third, God wants a kingdom of priests offering up righteous sacrifices to Him. The core of that kingdom is right here – we offer up the sacrifice of praise, as we represent the sacrifice of Christ in this bread and wine.

So, 3 things: This is His table; He purifies His people over the course of their lives. He wants us to offer Him a righteous offering, but we can only do so by lifting up the name of Jesus to Him.


Undone Apart from Him

Isaiah 6:1-7

"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. 2 Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!”
And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.
5 So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King,
The LORD of hosts.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth with it, and said:
“Behold, this has touched your lips;
Your iniquity is taken away,
And your sin purged.”

God gives Isaiah a vision of His glory in the temple.  The Lord of armies is surrounded by fiery angels, seraphim, calling out His holiness and glory.  Their voice shakes the temple and smoke fills it.  It is too much for Isaiah.  He says he is ruined, destroyed, undone.  Why?  He has seen the king, and it has made him very aware of his unclean lips.  He feels the insurmountable chasm between his sinful self and his radiant Creator.

Know this gap, people of God.  Your God is a consuming fire that calls for perfect holiness in His people.  You are ruined – without a man to stand in the gap, you are undone.  Let us throw ourselves on the mercy of God, found in Jesus Christ.

Let us confess our sins before almighty God.


Look through It to Him

This table is like the water from the rock, like the manna.  It is the same spiritual food, from Christ that Israel had.  This table is like John the Baptist.  Both John and this Communion table have the purpose to point to Jesus.  Both are in a subordinate role to Jesus.  We can appreciate both, but still not go to the one they point us to.  Many are baptized and get a taste of Christ in preaching, at the Lord’s Table, but their hearts remain unchanged and their idolatry becomes clear.   The wrath of God abides on many, and some of those are found in church on Sundays.

This table is meant as a window, not a mural.  We are to look through it to Jesus Christ and His grace and truth.  We don’t look AT it, but at what is past it.  Many times we are comforted at the flaws or hiccups in the service, because then we know the pastor is "real," too!  And there is a place for that.  But if we are focused on the dirt on the windshield, we aren’t looking at the road.  It’s more important to see the way the truth and the life – to see Jesus - than to focus on the details of the service and of the table.  This table is not a visual destination, a stopping point.  It is meant to carry our hearts, our thoughts, our souls, beyond itself to our Lord for true communion with Him. 

Receive Him, rest on Him alone today. 


Grumbling in Tough Times

Numbers 21:4-9

"Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. 5 And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.” 6 So the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died.
7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD that He take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.  Then the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived."

How often is it that the tough situations God hands us, to point us back to Him, discourage us and cause us to grumble.   This happened to Israel as they had to go around Edom.  This route was especially hard and hazardous.  We tend to lose a godly perspective in such times, and despise God’s deliverance and provision.  Israel thought it better to be back in Egypt – they came to hate the manna God miraculously provided day by day.  Complaining comes to us quickly when things aren’t exactly how we want them.  But God in His infinite providence sends us every circumstance for a reason.

Let us confess our sins before almighty God.

Assurance of Forgiveness:
When we admit our sin, God provides healing.  He gives us a mediator, a go-between.  Moses was a pre-quel to the real one, the only one, Jesus Christ.  As we look to Jesus, lifted up like the bronze serpent, we are delivered from the guilt of our sins and from certain spiritual death.  You can live again, but only by looking to the cross of Jesus.  




Wait to Date // Plodding // Discouragement

This article summarizes my position on dating pretty well, though it leaves out the essential element of (constructive!) parental involvement.

Kevin DeYoung calls for faithful plodders instead of radical revolutionaries in the church.

Randy Booth hits a home run on not getting discouraged or growing weary in doing good.


Stranger Things // Pastoring Smart People // Low-Budget Church Music

Tim Challies has a controversial post up about watching "Stranger Things."
I think he has a point.  Those who react along the vein of "come on, it was so brief, don't be a prude" might need a more sensitive conscience.

I enjoyed this one on being a pastor to people smarter than you.

Mark Dever describes the music ministry at Capitol Hill Baptist.  Very enlightening, and I liked the emphasis on keeping it minimal.