MVOPC 8 December 2013
Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3
Opening Hymn: 94 “How Firm A Foundation”
Confession of Sin
O eternal God and merciful Father, we humble ourselves before Your great majesty, against which we have frequently and grievously sinned. We acknowledge that we deserve nothing less than eternal death, that we are unclean before You and children of wrath. We continually transgress Your commandments, failing to do what You have commanded, and doing that which You have expressly forbidden. We acknowledge our waywardness, and are heartily sorry for all our sins. We are not worthy to be called Your children, nor to lift up our eyes heavenward to You in prayer. Nevertheless, O Lord God and gracious Father, we know that Your mercy toward those who turn to You is infinite; and so we take courage to call upon You, trusting in our Mediator Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Forgive all our sins for Christ’s sake. Cover us with His innocence and righteousness, for the glory of Your name. Deliver our understanding from all blindness, and our hearts from all willfulness and rebellion, we pray through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: Romans 4:20-25
Old Covenant Reading: Leviticus 8:1-21
New Covenant Reading: Hebrews 5:1-10
Hymn of Preparation: 648 “My Jesus, I Love Thee”
Sermon Text: Leviticus 8:22-36
Sermon: Anointed for Service
Hymn of Response: 355 “We Are God’s People”
Confession of Faith: Nicene Creed, p. 846
Doxology (Hymn 732)
Closing Hymn: 353 “I Love Thy Kingdom Lord”
PM Worship: 1 Samuel 8:1-22 – Blending In or Standing Firm?
Adult Sunday School: The Larger Catechism: Doctrine of God
CATECHISM Q/A FOR THE WEEK: Shorter Catechism # 24
Q. 24. How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet?
A. Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by his word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation.
Monday (12/2) Read and discuss Leviticus 8:1-21. Derek Tidball writes:
Preaching on the anniversary of his consecration as a bishop, Augustine of Hippo once referred to the enormity of the responsibility he carried:
To rebuke those who stir up strife, to comfort those of little courage, to take the part of the weak, to refute opponents, to be on guard against traps, to teach the ignorant, to shake the indolent awake, …, to put the presumptuous in their place, to mollify the quarrelsome, to help the poor, to liberate the oppressed, to encourage the good and to suffer the evil and to love all men.
To be preaching, disputing, reproving, edifying, to be on hand for everyman – that is the great burden and one which lies heavily on me.
The duties of Augustine were as nothing compared with the responsibilities Aaron was to assume as the high priest of Israel. He and his family were to be custodians of holiness, the teachers of the Israelites and the nation’s intermediaries with God. It was important therefore that they should enter into office neither lightly nor without full recognition of the people of God. Leviticus 8 reports the impressive ordination of Aaron to God’s service. The background to the ceremony is set out in Exodus 28-29, where the priestly garments are prepared and the order of events is fixed. What Exodus anticipated comes to fulfillment here in Leviticus.
Read or sing Hymn 94 “How Firm A Foundation” Prayer: Give thanks that Christ, our perfect and faithful High Priest, ever lives to make intercession for us!
Tuesday (12/3) Read and discuss Leviticus 7:28-38. Today’s passage ends this section of Leviticus. Skilled authors pay attention to endings because they know that they are likely to be remembered. Today’s passage fittingly focuses on the theme of God’s goodness under three headings:
- The LORD is good in how He ensures that the material needs of His priests are provided for them;
- The LORD is good in how He makes provision for the spiritual needs of all His people; and
- The LORD is good in how He provides He brings His people into His family to enjoy shared life with Him.
These three truths remind us that the sacrificial system was not created for God’s good but for the sake of His people Israel. This isn’t simply true of the sacrificially system. The LORD works all things for the good of those who love Him and who are the called according to His purpose. As we sing in Praise to the Lord, the Almighty: “Praise to the LORD, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth, shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth! Hast thou no seen how thy desires e’er have been granted in what he ordaineth?” Prayer: Please pray for the Session of our congregation as it meets this evening.
Wednesday (12/4) Read and discuss Leviticus 8:1-21. The ordination of Aaron points to how gracious the LORD is, not only in providing a mediator for Israel, but in calling a fallen sinner to serve in this role. As Derek Tidball points out:
Aaron was a man with a history. Much of that history was good, but there were some blotches on his record that might well have disqualified him from being a suitable candidate of the office of high priest. Most notably, Aaron had exercised fatally irresponsible leadership when he led the people in building a calf, similar to the idols they would have known in Egypt, and bowed down in homage before it. This action was in direct contravention of the second commandment. It did not bode well that a future high priest was prepared to desert the LORD so soon and to compromise Israel’s faith so readily. Immediately following the incident Aaron withdrew for a time, playing no part in setting up the tabernacle, … Yet, following Aaron’s discipline and repentance, God still called him to become high priest. Such is His grace. In His mercy He does not wait for people to be perfect before calling them into service. He specializes in using ordinary, flawed human beings to serve His purposes and to uphold His honor.
Read or sing Hymn 648 “My Jesus, I Love Thee” Prayer: Ask the LORD to remind you that you too are a person with a past and that He would cause you to forgive even as you have been forgiven.
Thursday (12/5) Read and discuss Hebrews 5:1-10. A consistently theme in the book of Hebrews is to note how much better Jesus is than anything we can find on earth. Today’s passage focuses on how exceedingly Christ’s Priesthood surpasses even that Levitical priesthood which had also been established by God. Donald Guthrie puts it like this:
The first feature of his high-priesthood is that it is not according to the order of Aaron. The writer goes to some pains to show the inadequacy of that order in Hebrews 5:1-4 and then immediately announces that Jesus is of a different order, that of Melchizedek, which he then develops in Hebrews 6:20-7:28. His exposition is based on Psalm 110, which itself goes back to the Genesis account (Genesis 14:18 ff.). … The following features are significant for an understanding of Christ’s priestly work:
- The order of Melchizedek is continuous. It does not need a line of succession. It is, moreover, eternal. In this feature, it is clearly immeasurably superior to Aaron’s line. …
- The qualifications of Jesus to be the true successor of Melchizedek are not based on tribal alignment as Aaron’s successors were. In any case, Jesus belonged to Judah, not Levi, and would not have qualified as an Aaronic priest. Bu the qualification for the order of Melchizedek is different – it is ‘the power of an indestructible life’ (Heb. 7:16), a qualification possessed by Christ alone.
- Another feature that distinguishes Melchizedek’s order from Aaron’s is that it is a royal priesthood. The royal aspect of Christ’s priesthood is particularly seen in the several references to his enthronement (cf. Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 10:12). This factor adds considerable dignity to the high-priestly office of Christ.
Read or sing Hymn 355 “We Are God’s People” Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Syria who continue to suffer terribly in the civil chaos that has engulfed this nation.
Friday (12/6) Read and discuss 1 Samuel 8:1-22. At first blush the request of the people seems so reasonable. Samuel, that great man of God, had led Israel for a generation but he was getting old. To make matters worse, his sons did not walk in his ways. What could be more reasonable than wanting a good ruler rather than one of Samuel’s sons? Yet the judgment of the LORD comes through loud and clear: “They have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being King over them.” Why was the request of the people a rejection of the LORD?
- Verse 5 tells us that they wanted a king like all the other nations. Israel was supposed to be unlike the other nations but they were looking to the surrounding nations as their model. We will see how they could have done things differently under point 3 below.
- Verse 20 expands on verse 5. The people wanted a king to lead a powerful military out to fight on their behalf. The irony is that, when the people trusted in the LORD, the LORD had repeated won the victory on their behalf. They seem to have learned nothing from the havoc that that LORD had done to the Philistines while the Ark of the Covenant was in their land. They seem to have forgotten how (in chapter 7) the LORD had thundered against the Philistines and given them victory when they lacked the ability to conquer the Philistines in their own strength. Nevertheless, they wanted security they could see rather than trusting the invisible God to provide it for them. We all continue to wrestle with this issue.
- How could have they acted faithfully? It is important to remember that there was nothing wrong with Israel having an earthly king. The book of Deuteronomy had already pointed forward to a time when Israel would have a monarchy. But if we look at this passage we will notice that the type of king the LORD prescribed was radically different from the type of king that Israel wanted. In Deuteronomy 17 beginning at verse 15 we read:
You may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. 16 Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ 17 And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.
18 “And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, 20 that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.
The prohibition against acquiring horses was a limitation on the size of the military. Horses were used for the cavalry and the LORD was saying Israel was not to have a large military. The king was to understand that he was a servant of Israel’s true King and His job was to apply God’s Torah to His nation. By contrast, in today’s passage Israel was looking for a king who would be outwardly impressive with a large army so they could feel secure under his protection (NB: This is exactly what the LORD gives them by giving them Saul – a man who was physically quite impressive but who, unlike David, was not a man who meditated upon God’s Law day and night). Prayer: Ask the LORD to bring visitors to our church who would be blessed by uniting with our congregation.
Saturday (12/7) Read and discuss Leviticus 8:22-36. Why seven days? I’m sure that Aaron and his sons were caught up in the splendor of the moment on the first day. How could they not be? The high priest garments were stunningly beautiful; Moses had been acting on the LORD’s behalf anointing both them and the Tabernacle, and they were being called to serve the LORD in a unique manner. Perhaps they felt very similar to the way a Supreme Court Justice or President does when he or she is first sworn into office. But then the time comes to get to work. Seven days is such a long time. What were Aaron’s sons thinking on the fourth of fifth day? What they should have been thinking about was the extraordinary privilege they were being granted while praying for God’s mercy and empowering grace in carrying out their office. They should have been engaged in repentance that pleaded with the LORD to create in them clean hearts and that He would cause them to be faithful all the days of their lives. We don’t know what they were actually thinking but we do know their names: Nadab and Abihu. These men become infamous for offering strange fire before the LORD and being struck dead by God Himself. Just as no Jew in the last 70 years has name his or her son Adolf, there is no record that anyone in the Bible was ever named Abihu again and the only other man named Nadab in the Old Testament was the wicked son of king Jeroboam. Whatever impression their ordination left upon these men it wasn’t a lasting one. It is important that we not only experience solemn moments in our lives – we also need to learn from them. Read or Sing Hymn 353 “I Love Thy Kingdom Lord” Prayer: Please pray for tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.