Things are starting to come together. The end is nigh and the countdown is beginning. This chapter begins with the triumphal entry. Jesus enters Jerusalem for His / the final passover. The disciples find the colt as He predicts. He rides the colt into Jerusalem with the bystanders worshiping YHWH and giving Him adoration calling for Him to fulfill His mission as Messiah to save them and desiring Him to free them from Roman tyranny. However, as is the case quite often, our expectations of what YHWH should do, and what He does, are two different things. Even when we have the same message / prediction.
Christ comes in and begins the process of redemption and rescue from tyranny… He drives the money changers and the seats of those who were selling in the temple. Those who were turning His Father’s house into a den of thieves.
The next morning he was hungry and came upon a barren fig tree. It should have had fruit, but it didn’t. He cursed it, and it began to wither and die. This is a great analogy of the pharisees. They too are not bearing fruit to righteousness. As a result, they begin to wither and die as Christ sacrifices Himself to build the church.
The rest of this chapter is focused on this dynamic action – reaction of Jesus and the Pharisees. They challenge His authority wanting to know what right He has to teach preach, and do these things. Christ in turn He puts their actions and those of sinners into perspective. He shows that knowing the law and being sinless are two very different things, and He criticizes them for it.
Jesus continues with another parable about a landowner who builds a vineyard, rents it out to vine-dressers, and sends his servants out to collect the fruits of the vineyard. The vine-dressers instead beat the representatives and eventually kill the owner’s son. This is the final truth of their relationship. The pharisees will kill the landowner’s son, but the landowner will destroy the vine-dressers and redeem His people.
The relationship between Jesus and the pharisees is such a contrast. Jesus cares for the fruit of the vine, while most of the Pharisees care more about what they can get from the fruit than they do about caring for the fruit. They are killing the vineyard from the inside out, and they just didn’t seem to care. This dynamic seems to define and explain all that follows. It is the reason and purpose for all that follows.
This is a key turning point in Jesus ministry and the pharisees focus when it comes to Jesus.
Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.
Most of the sacrifices previously mentioned have been for the individual. Whether it was a burnt offering, or a peace offering, or a wave offering, or a grain offering. Each person would bring their sacrifice to the tabernacle to cover their own sins or for themselves and their families. However, the day of atonement is different.
The day of atonement is very special in comparison to the other “daily” sacrifices. The day of atonement occurs once per year on the 10th day of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar. It is a time when all of the congregation of Israel was to get together at the tabernacle / temple for a special sacrifice for all. The day of atonement is about bringing cleansing to the high priest and his family; to the tabernacle, alter and tools of worship; and to the congregation of Israel as a whole. It’s about purifying and bringing all to right. It’s kind of like rebooting or restoring a computer. It cleans out the system and gives a fresh start.
This is very important over the succeeding centuries, and if it had been done and taken seriously as it should have been, it would have gone a long way to help prevent the corruption and downfall of the nations of Israel and Judah. Yet it didn’t.
This principle still applies today. While it is important for each individual to come to repentance before the LORD, and that seems to be a lost art. Even more so the repentance of the nation. How often do we take responsibility for the sins of the nation. How often do we come to YHWH in worship of Him and seeking not only forgiveness and healing for our own sins but for those of our nation. How often do we take responsibility for the decisions and direction of the nation. It is something that the leaders of the nation especially are to do, but that the people of the nation need to pursue and take accountability for as well. It is our nation and our responsibility.
Rev. John Camiolo
What is the significance of scent, of aroma and of oils? Why is it so important? It seems to be important to the LORD, and in part i understand it. Yet on the other hand i know that there is a part to it that i really just don’t grasp. Scents can have a stressing or a calming effect on a person depending very much on what the scent is. They can be irritating, soothing, or both at the same time. In the major prophets when God is talking about the people of Israel, there are numerous times when He makes a statement similar to this; “Your sacrifices are offensive to my nostrils.” Instead of being an aroma, pleasing to Him as is it’s intended purpose, it becomes noxious and vulgar.
Now, i can understand this to some extent as many strong perfumes and candles tend to give me headaches. Also, at one point in my life when i worked as a cashier at a clothing store there was a regular customer who always made it a point to go through my line. She appeared to be an older lady, and she would, whenever she had the chance, stop and talk with me for as long as she could. It was kind of an uncomfortable situation under normal circumstances, but she also wore extremely strong and noxious perfume. It was so bad that the majority of times, after talking with her for about five minutes or so, my head would be spinning so much i would have to lean on the counter to keep from falling over.
But that’s not what God was referring to when He spoke of their sacrifices being noxious in His nostrils. He was referring to how the people would bring their sacrifices to the temple on the right days, but then would live as if YHWH meant nothing at all other times. Their sins and offenses meant nothing to them as long as they came and made their appropriate sacrifices. That is not how these sacrifices and incense are supposed to work. They are supposed to enhance the sacrifice and make it more pleasing and acceptable to Him.
This chapter also deals with the anointing oil. The anointing oil has been a fascinating thing to me. It is used to consecrate and make holy. It is used to define and explain the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. It is used as a symbol of purification and for healing. It is all of this and more. In this chapter the anointing oil and the process of it being made is described in part. Yet, it is still a mystery. Some of the ingredients have been lost in time, or in the least their names have changed and we don’t know what they are anymore. Even if we did know what they were, it would be easy for us in the church today (in our ignorance of God’s Holiness and the importance of His commands) to abuse its use and bring curses down upon ourselves. For those same reasons i am glad that the true pronunciation of the name YHWH has been lost.
As i began reading this chapter i began thinking about the purpose of the priestly garments and the relationship between man and God. The question popped into my mind, “Does God need the priest to be dressed in special visually attractive garments? Are these garments related to giving honor and glory to YHWH because He IS God, or are they aesthetically pleasing and more serve the purpose of giving the Israelites an identity of worship to YHWH? Is it that elegant clothing somehow draws YHWH to the priests and His people more than plain clothing would?… I know, to some extent that sounds silly… Is it about giving YHWH glory and honor by bringing only the best into His presence? …like somehow He NEEDS that? Or; is it like when God spoke aloud honored Christ before the disciples not for Christ’s sake, but for theirs? Does this relate to God’s need for honor or glory, or the people’s need to be able to honor and glorify him through beautiful worship and sacrifice?
I thought it was a really interesting question and i really liked the direction that the question was leading. It’s a question that was definitely worth pursuing even if i already had a good idea as to the answer. Then i hit the end of verse two, and in all honesty i felt a little gipped. There was the answer sitting right in front of me; “for glory AND for beauty”. My reaction was, “Awe come on! You’re just going to GIVE me the answer! That’s no fun!” I figured that the answer was probably going to somehow be both, but it’s just so much fun to process through. At least i got to do it here.
The other thing i wanted to note really quickly is that the robes; the priestly garments seem to be given the same attention to detail and significance as the temple building itself. It started to get me thinking about the parallels between the temple as the outward covering of the Glory of God, and the priestly garments as an outward covering bringing glory to the priest.
Well, that’s all for now!
The plans are in place! The blueprints are being written up. The details are set. Life as we know it is changing. There are three constants in the world: Death, Taxes, and Change. The people of Israel are used to living surrounded by other gods. Gods of the Egyptians, gods of the Canaanites, and the gods of everyone in between. All of these other gods have temples and alters and rules of worship, but the Israelites seem to not have anything that they can use to identify with their God. The God of the Israelites doesn’t want statues to be made of Him. He hides His name from them. They have no established alter or temple to bring sacrifices to. How do you connect with a God like that?
Well, that’s all changing. God has just given Moses the plans for the tabernacle, and is now giving him the plans and blueprints for the alter and courtyard as well. The people of Israel are well on their way to having a place and way to worship that is all their own. No more having to watch all of these other nations and people worship their gods in all their ways, and not to be able to show their devotion to the God of their fathers. Finally, there is a more complete identity in what it means to be an Israelite and to serve their own God. The people of Israel are starting to become a more cohesive unit with all that YHWH has done for them, and now a way for the circle to be completed… a place to honor and serve Him in return. They are finally able to fulfill their lives and purpose.
We sometimes lose sight of the fact that we have been place on this planet and in this world for a purpose outside of ourselves. Our culture attempts to push us to accept that we are here to serve ourselves, and that other people are here for me. But the reality is that we are here to serve Him. When we are not serving Him, or worshiping Him in what we do and say, we will always have a sense of loss… of being incomplete. It’s only in honoring and worshiping God in our lives, actions, and words that we are able to be complete in who we are. These ancient civilizations had so much of a better grasp of these concepts than we do. We are continually trying to rebel from what some would call “oppression”, but what is in reality a core part of who we are… To serve a greater God. And now, with the plans in place, the Israelites are finally going to get what they need. A place and way to serve the one true God, the alter and court of the tabernacle.
John J. Camiolo Jr.