MVOPC 6 December 2015
Call to Worship: Psalm 98:1-3
Opening Hymn: 34 “The God of Abraham Praise”
Confession of Sin
Most holy and merciful Father; We acknowledge and confess before You; Our sinful nature prone to evil and slothful in good; And all our shortcomings and offenses. You alone know how often we have sinned; In wandering from Your ways; In wasting Your gifts; In forgetting Your love. But You, O Lord, have pity upon us; Who are ashamed and sorry for all wherein we have displeased You. Teach us to hate our errors; Cleanse us from our secret faults; And forgive our sins for the sake of Your dear Son. And O most holy and loving Father; Help us we beseech You; To live in Your light and walk in Your ways; According to the commandments of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Assurance of Pardon: Isaiah 1:18
Hymn of Preparation: 306 “Jesus, My Great High Priest”
Old Covenant Reading: Exodus 24:1-8
New Covenant Reading: Hebrews 9:11-22
Sermon: The Blood of the Covenant
Hymn of Response: 308 “Jesus Paid It All”
Confession of Faith: Heidelberg Catechism Q/A #1
Doxology (Hymn 732)
Closing Hymn: 246 “Man of Sorrows! What a Name”
OT: Genesis 5:1-32
NT: Luke 17:20-37
Walking With God Amidst Sin and Death
Adult Sunday School: The Second Commandment
Shorter Catechism Q/A #19
Q. What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.
Monday (11/30) Read and discuss Hebrews 9:11-22. R. Kent Hughes writes:
The inauguration of the [Old] Covenant was at once a glorious and bloody affair. So was the subsequent beginning of Tabernacle worship some time later: “In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies” (v. 21). On its inauguration day, the gorgeous Tabernacle as well as its tapestries, golden appointments and priestly vestments all dripped with blood.
From this lavish use of blood in the inauguration of the two great institutions of the Old Covenant, we are given this principle: “The law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (v. 22). This text says, “nearly everything” because exceptions were made – for example, in the case of the poor. If an impoverished Israelite could not afford a lamb or the next best thing, a pair of turtle doves or pigeons, he was permitted to bring a cereal offering for a sin offering. This is because it was understood that blood was a symbol, and if the symbol was beyond one’s reach, a secondary, ersatz symbol would suffice.
But the principle remains – “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” This saying was proverbial in Biblical culture – and was based on Leviticus 17:11 – “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves at the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” Sin must bring the forfeiting of life. Sin demands death.
The Old Covenant sailed on a sea of blood, for two vast reasons. First, to emphasize the seriousness of sin. The Bible takes sin seriously, more than any other religion. Sin alienates one from God. Sin is rooted in the hearts of humanity. Sin cannot be vindicated by any self-help program. Sin leads to death – and it will not be denied. The second reason is the costliness of forgiveness. Death is the payment. It will either be Christ’s life or ours!
Read or sing Hymn 34 “The God of Abraham Praise” Prayer: Ask the LORD to convict our communities and our country about the seriousness of sin.
Tuesday (12/1) Read and discuss Hebrews 9:1-10. Let’s think about what this description of the Holy Place would mean to us if we were contemplating approaching the Tabernacle or the Temple with a guilty conscience. If we were Jewish we would be allowed into the courtyard outside the Tabernacle, but we would not be allowed inside the tent of the Tabernacle itself. The Holy Place was the first of two rooms inside the Tabernacle and the priests ministered there every day. Along the southern wall of the Tabernacle was the golden lampstand. We naturally think of this as a straight lampstand because we have seen many models of the Menorah – but this is misleading. If we look at the original description of this lampstand it seems much more likely that branches came all around it in a three-dimensional way. Furthermore, each bud would have consisted of multiple stems each of which would have been lit on fire. This design would have made the lampstand look like a bush – and since it was always lit – it was designed to look like and represent the burning bush! What did that mean? You will remember that when the LORD called Moses and sent him to Egypt to deliver His people that the LORD appeared to Moses in a burning bush. The fire represented the holiness of God while the bush represented Israel. The surprising thing, which was also the critical thing, was that the bush was not burned up. The burning bush symbolized God’s commitment to dwell in the midst of a sinful people without consuming them. If you were approaching the Tabernacle with a guilty conscience – remembering the model of the burning bush inside the Holy Place would have been very encouraging to you. On the other side of the room, in front of the northern wall of the Tabernacle, stood the table with twelve loaves of showbread on it. This bread symbolized the LORD’s commitment to providing for the needs of His people. You can think of this image when we pray in the Lord’s Prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread.” The LORD had symbolically committed Himself to making this provision for His people and that too would be a great comfort as you drew near to the Tabernacle or Temple. So think of these symbols in terms of God’s commitment to dwelling in the midst of His people without consuming them and the LORD’s commitment to providing for their daily needs. Prayer: Please lift up the hundreds of thousands of refugees who are seeking to leave Syria and Iraq.
Wednesday (12/2) Read and discuss Exodus 24:1-8. Doug Stuart writes:
Moses sprinkled blood on the people in order to symbolize their being parties to the covenant. Some droplets would remain on their skin for days; some that fell on their clothing would be visible, if faded, for as long as the clothing lasted. The ceremony itself was so vivid and extraordinary as to be memorable, and its memory was intended to keep in the consciousness of the people the fact that God had joined with the people of Israel in a formal, official covenant to which both he and they were bound by oath. The animal’s blood recalled that oath (cf. v. 6), and therefore Moses commanded the people to take note of it and appreciate its meaning (“This is the blood of the covenant”). Moreover, the covenant was not merely a general concept. Rather, it was the sum of all its words, so Moses described it as “existing in accordance with all these words.” Again the language emphasizes that Israelites were not free to keep only part of the covenant.
Read or sing Hymn 306 “Jesus, My Great High Priest” Prayer: Please lift up those who are struggling with loneliness this holiday season.
Thursday (12/3) Read and discuss Genesis 5:1-32. Kenneth Matthews writes:
Genesis presents history as the course of human events driven by the sovereign dictates of God. Like creation, which has harmony and progression under the authoritative word of God (1:1-2:3), history also has its order, symmetry, and cohesion. Realization of the blessing is not left to happenstance, nor is it subject to the autonomy of human will. Although history is propelled by the hand of God, Genesis does not make human responsibility extraneous. Those through whom God achieves his purposes for the world are godly individuals such as Enoch, Noah, and Abraham. These three are distinctive figures in their times as people of godly character. Genesis appeals to their examples as evidence that human history has a moral factor that impacts its direction for good or ill. The inevitable tension between divine assurances and human culpability is not suppressed by the Genesis narrative; involvement of human choice only enriches the fabric of God’s mysterious outworking of his beneficent intention for mankind.
Read or sing Hymn 308 “Jesus Paid It All” Prayer: Ask that the LORD would lead visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our church family.
Friday (12/4) Read and discuss Luke 17:20-37. I. Howard Marshall writes:
Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees’ question is followed immediately by a long discourse addressed to the disciples. They too are concerned about what is to happen in the future. A time will come when they will long to see some visible evidence of the coming of the Son of man, but there will be nothing to see. It is true that people will spread rumors of the coming of the eschatological event, but the disciples must not be misled by them. For when the Son of man appears, there will be no mistaking his appearance in glory – a glory that contrasts with his earlier suffering and rejection by the present generation. This same generation will give itself up to worldly, godless living, as in the days of Noah and Lot. It will pay no heed to the gospel and consequently the day of the Son of man will take it by surprise with its sudden judgment and destruction. If that day brings redemption for God’s people, it also brings judgment on the ungodly. Therefore, let the disciples not be attracted by worldly desires which may divert them from being instantly ready for the Son of man. Even Lot’s wife, though rescued from Sodom and Gomorrah, fell under the same judgment. Only those who are prepared to lose their lives will survive the judgment which will come and separate between men. It is as senseless to ask for a map of what will happen as it is to ask for timetable: just as the location of a corpse in the wilderness is obvious from the crowd of circling vultures, so the Son of man will appear for judgment in an unmistakable manner, and there will be no need to ask where he is.
Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus will come again to receiving us unto Himself forever.
Saturday (12/5) Read and discuss Hebrews 9:11-22. Simon Kistemaker writes:
When God promised Abraham that he would bless him and give him numerous descendents, he confirmed his promise with an oath. The oath that God swore made his promise unalterable. When God made a covenant with his people, he gave it to them as a last will and testament. To make this valid for his people, God’s Son died. Upon Christ’s death, the will became effective, and its wording, unalterable.
God made a covenant with sinful people. He instructed them to sacrifice animals whose shed blood would cleanse them from sin. But because the people of Israel did not remain faithful to the covenant God had made with them, through the prophet Jeremiah he announced that he would make a new covenant with people upon whose minds and hearts his law was written.
Christ became the mediator of this new covenant, and through his faithfulness, he fulfilled its demands. For the sins of his people he shed not the blood of animals but his own. The writer of Hebrews posits God’s demand for restitution of a broken covenant agreement by saying, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (9:22). The counterpart of this statement is the Christian’s jubilation, “Because Christ shed his blood, I have been forgiven!”
Read or sing Hymn: 246 “Man of Sorrows! What a Name” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.