Archive for the ‘Verse of the Day’ Category

Dying to Flesh: Lesson from the Gate of the Tabernacle 

Exodus 27:9-19

The courtyard of the Tabernacle had rectangular shape with 100 cubits length (north and south sides) and 50 cubits width (east and west sides).
The perimeter of the courtyard was fenced with white linen.
Meanwhile, the gate of 20 cubits long was located on the east side of the Tabernacle and was made from the combination of white linen, blue, scarlet and purple cloth.

In the Bible, each of the color carries spiritual meaninng.
The white linen represents the righteousness of the saints (Rev 19:8) which is none other than the righteousness of Christ Himself.
Blue is the color of the sky, representing Lord Jesus as the Son of God.
Purple is the color of royalty, representing Him as the King
Scarlet (red) is the color of blood, representing His nature as fully man of flesh and blood and His sacrifice as the Lamb of God

Let’s look at the gate of the Tabernacle from another point of view.
How did they get the purple, blue and scarlet dye for the cloth?
To begin with, since there was no synthetic dye in the ancient world, all the dyes must be derived naturally.
Hence, these dyes were expensive materials.
Very likely, the Israelites obtained blue, purple and scarlet fabric along with gold and silver when they had plundered the Egyptians (Exodus 12:35-36).

In the ancient world, blue dye was obtained from certain sea snails/shellfish.
In order to extract the dye, the snails were crushed and the resulting fluid was further processed to yield the dye.
Meanwhile, scarlet dye was obtained from certain insects.
In the extraction process, the insects were immersed in hot water bath, sometimes boiling water, with added chemicals.
On the other hand, purple dye was obtained either from another type of snails or simply by mixing red and blue dyes.

Notice that in both situations, snails and insects had to die to yield the dye which was used as part of the gate of the Tabernacle.
What lesson can we draw here?

Similar to insects or snails, we may consider ourselves to be weak, sluggish, untalented or insignificant.
In short, we may dislike ourselves.
Nevertheless, just like they died to yield the dye, even when we are weak, we can surrender our lives to God.
As we learn to obey Him and die to our flesh (i.e. sinful nature in us), He will use us for His glory.

Unless the snails and insects yielded to the process of crushing or heating, they would never realize their potential in the building of the gate of the Tabernacle.
Unless we are willing to die to our sinful nature (i.e. crucifying the flesh), we will never realize our potential in the kingdom of God. 

A related verse to the principle here:

In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and earthenware, and some for noble use, some for ignoble.  
If any one purifies himself from what is ignoble, then he will be a vessel for noble use, consecrated and useful to the master of the house, ready for any good work.  
2 Timothy 2:20-21 RSV 

Let us examine ourselves.
How is our journey of consecration thus far?

 

 

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Giving The Best to God

After studying the Altar of Burnt Offering, let us continue to study on the offering itself.
There are 5 types of offering in the Old Testament, namely
-Burnt offering
-Grain offering
-Peace offering
-Sin offering
-Trespass offering
Leviticus 1-5 gives the details of each of this offering.
There are at least 2 points we can learn from this passage

1.For some offerings, God gave ‘flexibility’ on the type of offering depending on the financial ability of the Israelites.

The rich Israelites sacrificed bulls.
The average sacrificed sheep or goats
The poor sacrificed pigeons or turtledoves.
As New Testament saints, we no longer bring animal sacrifice as Lord Jesus has sacrificed Himself.
Nevertheless, the same principle applies to us:
When we offer our finance to God, it is according to our individual financial ability (1 Cor 16:2)

2.The Israelites offered the best to God

When they offered animal sacrifice, the animals must be without blemish
Such an animal would have potential source of meat or leather or wool.
They could have sold the animal for a sum of money.
Nevertheless, they gave it to God.

When they offered grain to God, it was of the fine flour.
It was the best grade of flour which would later be deemed fit as a part of king’s diet (1 Kings 4:22)
It was a form of respect: if the flour was not presentable to a king, it was not presentable to God either.

Later on, in the book of Malachi (Mal 1:7-8), God rebuked the people for giving the defective offering (the lame, the blind, the sick animal) to Him.
God even challenged them to present such offering to a governor.
If the governor would not be pleased with it, why would God be?
For the Israelites who were not financially able, God accepted their pigeon or turtledove sacrifice.
Nevertheless, it does not mean they could offer sickly pigeon.
At the very least, they still would sacrifice a healthy pigeon.

 

Based on these two points, let us re-evaluate our giving to God.
All of us have different financial position.
Nevertheless, when we consider our giving to God (tithe, offering, building fund, etc), does it really reflect the best within our financial mean? 

Giving the best to God is indeed costly
Nevertheless, if God has already given His best (Lord Jesus) to us, why can’t we give our best back to Him? 
Let us not lose to the ancient Israelites.
If they could give their best to God within their financial mean, we can do the same too.

 

Posted July 21, 2017 by Jefri Yue Fei 吴岳飞 in Verse of the Day

Of the Holiness and the Mercy of God

Altar of Burnt Offering (Exodus 27:1-8)

Altar of Burnt Offering was shaped like a hollow box with 2 poles at the side to facilitate the carrying of the altar.
At the midsection of the cube, a grating was installed to hold the sacrifice.
The ashes of offering fell through the grating beneath the altar and was regularly carried away.
The material used was acacia wood overlaid with bronze (some Bible translation say brass).

Altar of Burnt Offering was placed near the entrance of the Tabernacle.
Since the Tabernacle represents the presence of God, this altar represents the requirement to enter into His presence.

As the name implies, the Altar of Burnt Offering was used to burn various offerings.
One particular offering directly dealt with sin.
This offering took the form of animal sacrifice

Why did the Israelites need to perform animal sacrifice?

God is both holy and merciful.
He is holy therefore He punishes sin.
At the same time, He is merciful toward the sinner.

Frankly, God had every right to pass down a death penalty to every single Israelite.
After all, they were all sinners (just like all of us today).
However, God graciously allowed animals to die on behalf of the Israelites.
As the Israelites brought their animal sacrifice, the altar reminded them both the holiness and the mercy of God.

Obviously, the blood of animal sacrifice was not enough (Heb 10:4).
Simply, it is because human is worth much more than animals.
At most, the blood of animal only covers the sin.
It does not blot out sin completely.

Only the blood of Lord Jesus is able to do that through His sacrifice on the cross.
Now, let’s view the sacrifice of Lord Jesus from another angle: from the eye of the criminal Barabbas.

Barabbas was an insurrectionist (Mark 23:19).
He wanted the Jews to be independent from Rome.
Yet, in his revolt, he committed murder and robbery (John 18:40).
He was then given death sentence.

Let’s picture ourselves as Barabbas in the dark, cold prison.
He had given up all hope.
He was waiting for the soldiers to drag him out of the prison to the place of death.
Yet, to his surprise, he was released! Completely free as Lord Jesus took his place to die.

In one way or another, all of us are Barabbas.
We all deserved death penalty from God and even eternal banishment from His presence.
Yet, Lord Jesus took all the penalty of our sins.

Let’s meditate upon this truth.
Let it sink in.
Doesn’t our heart now well up with thanksgiving for the sacrifice He made?

How then should we express our thanksgiving?
As He has given His life for us, we too must give our life back to Him.
It means our life solely belongs to Him and we live only to please Him.
We must never entertain sin as entertaining sin is equal to trampling His sacrifice underfoot.

Have we been living a life pleasing unto Him?

Posted July 4, 2017 by Jefri Yue Fei 吴岳飞 in Verse of the Day

Prayer Life: Lesson from Incense

Exodus 30

“Aaron shall burn on it sweet incense every morning; when he tends the lamps, he shall burn incense on it. And when Aaron lights the lamps at twilight, he shall burn incense on it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations.”
V7-8

One of the daily routine for the High Priest back then was to burn incense on the Altar of Incense.
Every morning and evening, he would use the censer/fire pan to collect hot coal from the Altar of Burnt Offering.
He then placed the burning coal on the Altar of Incense and added incense powder onto it.
The burnt incense produced sweet smelling aroma which filled the entire room.

And the Lord said to Moses: “Take sweet spices, stacte and onycha and galbanum, and pure frankincense with these sweet spices; there shall be equal amounts of each.
And you shall beat some of it very fine, and put some of it before the Testimony in the tabernacle of meeting where I will meet with you. It shall be most holy to you.”
V34, 36

Of particular interest was the incense.
It was mixture of stacte, onycha, galbanum and frankincense ground into fine powder.
In the Bible, incense represents prayer (Psalm 141:2).

What lesson can we learn from incense that we may have a great prayer life?

Leaving aside stacte and onycha as their exact identity is not known, we can learn from galbanum and frankincense.
How do we get incense from galbanum and frankincense?
First, part of the plant has to be slashed or cut down. Then, the resin will ooze out and harden.
This hardened resin is often called “tear”.

Now, a plant does not have nervous system to register tissue damage as pain.
Nevertheless, let us imagine for a moment: if the plant could speak and feel, wouldn’t it scream in pain when it is slashed or cut down?

What does it have to do with our prayer life?

Many times when life is smooth and easy, we tend to slack in our prayer.
Or perhaps, we may stop praying altogether as we are too busy with life.
God may then allow us experience hardship that we may stir up our prayer life.
The hardship can be so painful that we even pray in “tears”
Difficulty can be God’s way of reminding us to pray, and pray more earnestly.

“You shall not offer strange incense on it, or a burnt offering, or a grain offering; nor shall you pour a drink offering on it.”
V9

God ordered Israelites to prepare the right kind of incense.
He clearly forbid strange incense which could mean incense with the wrong or missing composition or if there was a strange ingredient on the incense.

Just like God forbid and would not accept strange incense, there are prayers which God will not accept.
While there maybe various reasons for that, one absolute reason God will not heed prayer is when we mix our prayer life with sinful life (Ps 66:18).

How is our prayer life?
Do we pray earnestly?
Do we pray out of pure heart?

Posted June 25, 2017 by Jefri Yue Fei 吴岳飞 in Verse of the Day

It’s Hammer Time!! The Making of Golden Lampstand

The Tabernacle of Moses represented God’s dwelling in the Old Testament.
Since the Holy Spirit dwells in us, the New Testament saints, it is beneficial for us to continue to study from the Tabernacle of Moses that we may become the dwelling place He desires.
 
He also made the lampstand of pure gold; of hammered work he made the lampstand… Their knobs and their branches were of one piece; all of it was one hammered piece of pure gold… They made the lampstand and all its accessories from one talent of pure gold.
Exodus 37:17, 22, 24
 
Let us now imagine the making of the Golden Lampstand.
 
Firstly, gold articles were collected and melted.
The impurity which floated above the hot liquid gold was removed.
In itself it was a long and arduous process.
The liquid gold was then cooled down, resulting in pure gold weighing one talent (which is a about 34 kg)
 
The second process which was a lot more arduous was the hammering of the gold.
Imagine the loud sound as gold lump was hammered times and again.
Imagine the masterful skill of the goldsmith as he shaped the gold lump into the lampstand complete with the intricate almond design
Imagine various tools, probably hammer with various sizes, in order to achieve the exact dimension and curve with great accuracy and precision and symmetry.
 
How was it possible to hammer the gold and transform it into a lampstand?
Because among all metals, gold is extremely malleable and ductile.
In fact, gold can be stretched as thin as 0.00004 cm thick which is at least 40 times thinner than human hair!!
(Note: this is the thickness of gold used in the famous Rutherford gold foil experiment to determine the structure of atom)
 
What lesson can we learn here?
 
God is the Ultimate Goldsmith and we are like gold before Him.
He desires to shape us into the likeness of Christ.
So, first, He uses fiery affliction to purge that impurity, that secret sin in our lives.
We must then quickly repent and let go of that sin.
 
But, He does not stop there.
Every now and then He will hammer us, allowing certain hardship to shape us up.
And this hardship has nothing to do with sin.
It may come in the form of demanding boss that we may develop the fruit of patience.
It may be that annoying friend or colleague that we may learn to forgive.
It may be that financial difficulty that we may cultivate perseverance and wisdom in managing money.
It may be that persecution from family members that we may take part in the Beautitude: Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake (Matt 5:11).
It maybe that slander/gossip from people that we may learn to love and bless our enemy.
 
This hammering process is definitely painful for us.
In fact, if gold were able to speak, it would have screamed in pain throughout the process of making the lampstand.
Nevertheless, just like gold is malleable and ductile, we too must learn to yield to Him as He hammers us.
Let us not become angry or disappointed with God.
Instead let us be willing to go through the process and persevere and develop that Christlike virtue.
Remember, He is still in the process of shaping us to be a lampstand before Him.
 
If we are now in hardship, let us examine our heart.
If the hardship is related to certain sin, let us quickly repent.
If it is not related to sin, what is that Christlike quality we must develop?

Posted June 15, 2017 by Jefri Yue Fei 吴岳飞 in Verse of the Day

Acacia Wood and Pure Gold

The Holy Spirit dwells in us as we are His temple (1 Cor 3:16)
What kind of temple does He desire?
Perhaps it is helpful to look at the model of the Tabernacle in the Old Testament.

Then Bezalel made the ark of acacia wood; two and a half cubits was its length, a cubit and a half its width, and a cubit and a half its height. He overlaid it with pure gold inside and outside, and made a molding of gold all around it.
Exodus 37:1-2

Let’s look at part of the Tabernacle, which is the Ark of the Covenant.
It was made of acacia wood overlaid with pure gold.
Similar design was used for Table of Showbread and Altar of Incense,

What makes these two materials special?

Acacia wood is known for its resistance toward decay.
The wood contains much natural preservative which prevents insects from eating it.
The wood is also dense which makes water hard to penetrate it.

On the other hand, pure gold is a gold refined in fire.
The impure gold is first melted. All the impurities will float and will be removed.
That’s how pure gold is obtained.

What lessons can we learn from these two materials?

Just like acacia wood, we too must resist spiritual decay.
Daily we face temptation and we must choose whether we obey or disobey God.
How do we prevent spiritual decay coming from disobedience?
By hiding His word in our heart, that we may not sin against Him (Psalm 119:11)
In other words, we stand upon His word.

Just like impure gold, God may see certain impurities in our lives, perhaps certain secret sin.
He may allow us to experience suffering that all the secret sin will resurface which He will then filter out.
In the midst of suffering, we need to persevere and be willing to let go of that secret sin.
And at the end of suffering, we will become like pure gold before Him.

Just like acacia wood, how have we kept His word in our heart?
Just like pure gold, how have we persevered in the midst of suffering?

Posted June 13, 2017 by Jefri Yue Fei 吴岳飞 in Verse of the Day

Praising God in Tough Circumstance

The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
Acts 16:22-25

Imagine Paul and Silas unjustly thrown into a dark prison.
They were bruised and bleeding all over.
Their body screamed pain after pain due to severe flogging.

And yet, in that circumstance, they chose to praise God.

Not many of us have similar experience of being persecuted like theirs.
If they could praise God in the midst of pain and injustice, what excuse do we have not to praise God?
After all, shouldn’t His praise be continually on our lips? (Psalm 34:1)

Remember.
It is easy to say ‘God is good’ when life is easy.
But here is the real test: can we still say ‘God is good’ when life is hard?

And so, have we praised God today?

PS: Read the remaining passage to see how God responded to their praise.

Posted June 9, 2017 by Jefri Yue Fei 吴岳飞 in Verse of the Day