This sermon is the beginning of a new series and is very closely related to the series that I just ended last week—"Knowing Christ"—and is also related to the series I began toward the end of the Feast of Tabernacles. It is going to take a number of sermons for me to get through this series, and I have, in a sense, been saving this series and scheduled it for this time of the year so that it might increase our understanding of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I might also say sacrifices of Jesus Christ—the Passover, our coming out of sin, and going on to perfection. We are going to begin with a scripture in the Psalms.
Psalm 111:1-4 Praise you the LORD. I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation. The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein. His work is honorable and glorious: and his righteousness endures forever. He has made His wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.
The New American Standard Bible translates verse 2 as "Great are the works of the LORD. They are studied by all who delight in them."
To study something means to look into it, to scrutinize, to do some research. It means more than to just give a cursory glance, but to really pay diligent attention to. As you can see there, those who do this kind of thing are those who take pleasure into studying deeply, or studying into the works of the LORD. If you are doing this, I am sure that you are beginning to appreciate the breadth and depth and the length of the teaching of Jesus Christ.
It may also be the very unusual arrangement that forces us to look all through the Bible for additional information in order to fully appreciate it. This arrangement brings us into contact with other subject material. It may also be the same subject material that we are looking at, but in a different context than we would otherwise have. This in turn expands and deepens our knowledge of God's Word, and also of Jesus Christ Himself.
I think that you would agree with me that God's works are great. So great are they that they are beyond the grasp of our very finite minds. But what we do see, we come to appreciate, and sometimes even exult in the intelligence and the wisdom and providence of our great God, and are even able to consider a small portion of the depth of His mind. The more closely we scrutinize the things that God has made, the more perfect, the more infinite they appear to be.
By contrast, when we look at what man has created, we see just the opposite. We look at something that man has made, and it may look very fine at just a cursory glance. When we begin to study it—maybe look at it through a magnifying glass—then imperfections begin to appear, like little pits, scratches, or whatever that were not easily discernible by the naked eye. Imperfections begin to appear that were otherwise hidden. If we take away the magnifying glass and put on a pretty powerful microscope, then the imperfections become very clear, and much worse than they appeared under the magnifying glass.
The works of God are different. The more closely we look at the works of God and deeply study into them, the more they are magnified, the more wisdom, the more beauty, and the more perfection is revealed.
Let us consider God's ability to create something that has a great number of uses to it. It seems as though almost everything that God creates can generally be used for more than one function. We are going to consider air for a little bit of time here, because it is something that we are all familiar with. It is also something that we hardly give a passing thought to. We are breathing it in and out constantly, and each breath we take supports life because the oxygen is delivered into all parts of our body by the bloodstream. Every cell is kept alive by the oxygen that is part of the air.
But at the same time, oxygen supports combustion and fire. It can either be a very fine servant, or it can destroy us; but neither life would exist, nor fire would exist were it not for the oxygen that is in the air. On the other hand, are you not glad when the weather is cold that there is fire to keep us warm? What if there were not any way to create heat? Then we would have to live in cold houses. Not only that, but there would be a multitude of manufactured items that you and I again almost take for granted, but they could not be made, they could not be manufactured except that there is heat sustained and supported by air that enables us to have those things.
Air carries. It has convection. It transfers heat so that we can have warm weather. It also carries moisture which enables us to have rain, which in turn enables us to eat. Not only that, but the rain is very beneficial in cleaning up the atmosphere. There are times that can be a curse too, because if you get too much rain, you get a flood. You have the flood because the air carries so much water.
If you wave your hand through the air, you can feel it. Now until you actually do something to feel the air, the chances are very great that you are even hardly going to be aware of it. Air is just so commonplace that when the wind blows and even disturbs it, we really do not stop to think of it as being air. We think of it as being wind, and it is carrying that dust around until a little bit of moisture forms, which enables it to rain.
But air, on the surface of it, appears to be so insubstantial that it will not support a thing, as it were. However, the faster you move an object through the air, the more molecules are forced together. If you can get air moving fast enough against, say a piece of canvas, it will move a great ship weighing many tons, yet you can move your hands through it as though it is nothing. It is almost like magic, because you cannot even see what it is that is actually moving that large ship. All it is are these tiny invisible molecules piling up against a canvas that has been correctly positioned.
In addition to that, within the workings of several other laws that same air will lift a huge 747 weighing many tons right off the ground, and transport us thousands of miles in a matter of hours. Many thousands of pounds are being lifted off the ground, and we cannot even walk on it.
Well, not only that, air provides for the transmission of the fragrances of a savory meal, or of a flower, or a perfume (or of garbage for that matter), and right at this very moment it is conveying the sound of my voice. No air, no sound. You combine some of the elements of air together, and things equally diversified, like water, are produced.
Are you beginning to get the point? When God creates something, it is awesome in what it is capable of doing, or being used for, or what is able to be produced from it. "Great are the works of the LORD studied into by all those who delight in them." Remember that last phrase—"studied into," scrutinized, researched, but mostly only by those who take delight in what God is able to create. I think this illustrates how well God is able to create a product of many and varied uses.
By contrast, man almost has to make one tool for everything that he wants to do. We are not able to combine things anywhere near as well as God. Did you ever see the way man combines things when he does it on his own? Sometimes we will see something like I am going to describe, and I know that you have all seen this.
Men will take an old automobile (usually an old sedan, but it does not have to be an old sedan, it can be an old coupe for that matter), and he will saw the back half of it off. Then he will take a half-ton pickup, and he will take the bed off that pickup and weld or bolt it onto the half-back of the automobile that he sawed off, and now he has got a multi-purpose vehicle.
Out of two he has made one that he can use in situations where before he used to use two. It looks awful most of the time. Hardly anybody does a good job at doing this. It might serve the function for which the man wanted it, and you have to give him an "A" for effort in making something useful out of maybe practically nothing; but you get the contrast there.
One of the better things I can think of that men have combined together and made multiple uses for is the Swiss army knife. It looks pretty good, and it functions pretty well in emergency circumstances, but you see, there is a limit to what man has been able to do here. You only want to use the knife in emergency circumstances. You do not want it to be the tool you might need to build a house or to do something that may require a great deal of precision.
There is the contrast. With the things God makes, you can do precise, wonderful, and powerful things because He has combined functions all in one little package. But when man does something, you look at it and say it is okay in a pinch, but this is not something you want to use all the time for what you are going to be doing.
I remember a Worldwide Church of God minister saying something during the course of a sermon that a simple cell one can take from his body is about as complicated as a map of New York City. I do not know whether that is an absolutely true statement, because biology is not my field. I appreciate the statement for the illustration the man made. He was trying to contrast for us [something God has made] that has depth and wisdom, and there is providence built right into it, and man is nowhere near able with his finite capability to come anywhere close to this.
Psalm 12:6 The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
I am drawing our attention to this because God's Word is just as much a creation of God as His physical works, and is as inexhaustible as the uses and the functions we can put a work of God to, like air. It is a creation in a spiritual area that is necessary for our use for life, for relationships, and its uses seem to be as inexhaustible in their area as God's physical creations are in their area. It does not matter whether one lived at the time of Abraham, Moses, David, Ezra, Christ, or right now, God's Word is infinite, so pure, always valid, always true, always applies, and it is an inexhaustible source of guidance.
Psalm 119:17-18 Deal bountifully with Your servant, that I may live and keep Your word. Open you my eyes [give me understanding, give me guidance, help me to see], that I may see wondrous things from Your law.
Let us broaden the last part of verse 18 to more accurately say, ". . . that I may behold wondrous things out of your teaching, out of your instruction." God's teaching is not limited to His law.
The word torah that is there should be understood more frequently in that context of God's instruction rather than God's law unless it appears in a section or context where law is definitely the subject. But here is a man with the right idea. Asking God for guidance into His Word should be a precursor for us.
Understand that it is one thing to look at the Bible as a great book because it has that reputation, but it is another thing altogether to study into the Bible, but this we must do. I recently heard of a man who said that he was too busy to study. I will tell you, that person is going to be in for a shock. One of these days God, in His mercy (I am sure) is going to bring that person up short to show him how much he needs the Word of God in him.
Let me ask you ladies something. How would you like it if your husband or your boyfriend said that he was too busy to listen to you talk? What kind of a relationship would that produce? If this person is too busy to let God talk to him, too busy to study, it is the same as telling God, "I'm too busy to allow You to talk to me. I have more important things to do"
Tell me something: Is it possible for the image of God to be created in a person who is only hearing the words of a minister every Sabbath? That is a good start, if the minister is telling you the truth, but that is only a start. Every one of us needs that personal relationship in order to begin living that right way now—"That I may live [eternally]" as the psalmist just said.
Psalm 119:17 also says, "That I may keep Your word." Are we always depending on somebody else's research into God's Word? "Open my eyes that I may see wondrous things out of Your teaching."
The problem here of course is that studying into God's Word is something human nature resists because human nature finds things that have to do with this material world a great deal more appealing. That unfortunately (or maybe fortunately would be better) is because God has allowed this to occur. Therefore it must be wisdom if something has to be overcome. It is something we have to practice until it becomes first-nature with us, and is something that we take delight in.
We are going to turn to Proverbs 2:1. I think this is a very familiar section of Scripture to us, and God is speaking to us directly.
Proverbs 2:1-9 My son, if you will receive my words, and hide my commandments with you; so that you incline your ear unto wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry after knowledge, and lift up your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hid treasures; then shall you understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom: out of his mouth comes knowledge and understanding, he lays up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly. He keeps the paths of judgment and preserves the way of his saints. Then shall you understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yes, every good path.
We are going to go all the way back to verse 1 because there is a little bit of expounding I want to do. I want to point out a couple of words and tell specifically what they mean. The word "hide" there, unfortunately, is not a good translation. It is not absolutely wrong, but there is a word in the English that relates a little bit better, and that is the word "treasure." "My son, if you will receive my words, and treasure my commandments with you." The King James translators came up with the word "hide" because we usually hide treasures, but God wants to give us the treasures out of His Word. It is not that we hide it, but that we witness for Him. In other words God is saying, "I want you to treat My Word as something precious to you."
God's Word is something we are to desire very greatly; not merely something that we regard as expensive, but something that we desire to possess. Possessing it is within our reach if we are willing to stretch ourselves for it. Now I can say that in confidence because of what follows, because He tells us that we have to dig for it. That is what I mean by stretching ourselves for it. That is what the word "study" implies. You are not studying if you are merely glancing at something. Study requires scrutiny, research into. We might actually say staring at, trying to apprehend the fullness of something.
This thing that we are to go after is God's Word. We are to go after the understanding, the wisdom, and its multifaceted uses that are contained buried within God's Word. It is within our reach, but God wants us to treat it as if it was the pearl of great price, and that we are willing to give our all to have it.
The other day we had the opportunity to go up in an airplane and fly over the volcanoes on the big island of Hawaii. After our flight was over and we came back to the airport, we saw a C130 (a troop carrier) come in. We watched all the Marines pile out of it. Then two helicopters came to pick up the marines who were going to get into the helicopters to be transported somewhere else.
Evelyn was in the little waiting room at the airport. Also in this waiting room was a young girl who made a pretty significant statement. I guess this girl was about 18 or 19 years old. She was speaking to a couple of ladies who were older. I do not know exactly what the conversation was about, but she told these ladies, "If I want something, I will do whatever I have to do to get it." Now I am sure she did not mean that if she wanted something she would murder for it. That was not within the context of what the conversation was about. She meant that if she wanted something, she was willing to work night and day, even at two jobs, to get it. Whatever it took, she was going to get it. There is a right principle involved in that as long as the goal was right. She had to be the judge of the use of her time, but that is the kind of thing we are talking about here.
We are talking about the principle that is involved in studying into, digging into, grasping, and understanding God's Word; that it is not something that is on the surface. On the surface, there is teaching. On the surface there is enough there to provide us with things that will keep us going for a while, but if we really love God's Word, if we really treasure it, and if we want to grasp a little wee bit of its infinity, then it is going to take digging, and so we have to treasure it, and go after it.
There is one more thing here, and that is we must be careful not to get a wrong impression from the word "treasure." This treasure is not something we put into a safe deposit vault and take out and look at only on rare occasions. This treasure is sought so that it can be useful toward producing success in God's way. This treasure will produce beneficial results if it is used just like air. We might know a good bit about air, but what if we never put it to the right use? God's Word is a useful tool in producing the abundant life—eternal life—that God wants us to have.
In Proverbs 2:2, the words "Incline your ear" picture how we might cock our head. We tilt it to the side and we cup our hand around our ear so that we might be able to hear. It gives the implication of making a strenuous effort in order to hear something that is quietly being said. Again, there is a beautiful picture here, because God's Word does not always leap right out at us and hit us in the nose. There is something there that relates to quietness and stillness, and so He gives us this illustration that we are going to have to cock our ear, or cup our ear and cock our head in order to understand something more distinctly. So effort has to be put forth once again.
Also the words "Apply your heart to understanding" mean that we are to make strenuous mental effort. When you start tearing this thing apart, you can see that it is almost as if really coming to grips with God's Word requires much of the same kind of effort it takes for an inventor to make use of something that God has created.
Thomas Edison is reputed to have said that inventing is ninety-eight or ninety-nine percent perspiration, and one or two percent inspiration. In other words, it was hard work. I think I might have my figures a little bit wrong. Before he arrived at the tungsten filament for a light bulb, he had gone through twelve or thirteen hundred wrong pieces of metal, carbon, or whatever by which he attempted to make a light bulb. It was a lot of work until he finally arrived at one that gave good service.
In verse 3 are the words "Cry after." You might have an implication that you are missing here. It is like we are crying after God's Word. Does that mean we are shedding tears? No. It is as though we have our hands cupped around our mouth so that we can project our voice way out and shout something like, "Hey! Come over here." In other words we are crying after God's Word to invite it to us. "Oooooooh. Come here!" is what that means. It is an invitation to God's Word just the same as we would invite somebody to come after us. And then it says: "Lift up your voice." It adds intensity to the crying after. In an overall sense God is telling us that we have to be open-minded. You see, we are inviting God's Word to come into us so that we can make use of it.
In verse 4, probably the part we are most familiar with, He shows that we are going to have to dig for God's Word as if we are digging for valuables, and especially for things like silver, gold, platinum, and diamonds. They have to be dug for.
Did you ever go geode hunting? Some of you may have gone hunting for geodes. Maybe you do not even know what a geode is. John Reid introduced me and my family to geode hunting. This took place way back in the 70s. A geode might be described as the afterbirth of the explosion of a volcano.
When a volcano explodes it spews molten rock up into the air. As the molten rock flies into the air it cools off. That molten rock may contain all kinds of minerals it has dredged up from the earth, and then being forced up out of the earth, it explodes. As the molten rock goes through the air it forms itself into balls—a mass of whatever the minerals were that happened to be in that particular lava that came up. It goes up into the air, and then it comes down.
By the time it comes down, very frequently it has already begun to solidify. Sometimes that material is exploded thousands of feet into the air. When it falls down and hits the ground, it is driven into the ground from the speed of the fall, so if you are going to go hunt for geodes, you usually have to dig for them. Well, we did.
John knew where there was an anciently-exploded volcano out near beyond Blythe, California, which is almost into Arizona or Nevada. We drove out onto this exploded volcano about ten or fifteen miles to a place where a mineral map said had geodes in it. We dug, and we dug, and we dug all day. During the course of the day my kids and I dug up a bucket full of golf ball-sized geodes.
When you find the geodes you are not done yet, because the thing you are searching after is on the inside of the geode. I do not know how frequently it happens, but sometimes there is just the right mineral consistency in the lava, that when it explodes into the air and begins to cool, those minerals form themselves into a beautiful crystalline display. On the outside it looks like a cinder, but on the inside it may be breathtakingly beautiful because of the formation of those crystals.
But even after you find them, you do not know what is inside until you saw them in half and take a look. I guarantee you that when you do that, most of the time you are going to find nothing but cinder. Once in a while you will find one that maybe looks like you are looking into a beautiful grotto. Other times there are shards of crystal going in every direction, and most of the time these tend to be like glass. Sometimes they look like cut glass with different colors as well, but they have to be brought up from the depths. It is the same way with God's Word. What is on the outside might be intriguing, and it will be instructive, but the real meaning, the real instruction is very likely going to be something that is going to have to be delved into from the inside of it.
Verse 5 is telling us something quite interesting. If we do the things in the first four verses, verse 5 is telling us this:
Proverbs 2:5 Then shall you understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
Do you want to know God? We all want to know God. We want to be like Him. We want to imitate Him. We want to live like Him. Eternal life is to know God. You see, it is going to require some work. It is going to require some pushing of ourselves. It is going to require some sacrifice in our life. Sometimes it is going to cause us to suffer because human nature is going to be pointing out to us that we want to be doing something else, and so in making that sacrifice we have to suffer a little bit to give that time over to something that is going to be good eternally.
There is even something beyond that. Proverbs 1:7 says that "the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom," and yet here it says that only after we do this do we know the fear of the LORD and have the knowledge of God. Neither one of these contradicts the other, but even as "the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom," it also is to be the goal in our searching for wisdom, because, you see, the fear of the LORD is not something static. It has a beginning. It will grow, and it will become more intense, and then we will really appreciate God.
This is the kind of "fear of the LORD" that produces real reverence and awe of His infinite mind. It is not just His infinite mind in being able to create things, but with it is infinite wisdom, infinite love, infinite mercy, and infinite character—His transcendence in every area. It is the kind of thing that produces within us its good fruit, to stand in awe of this and want to be like it.
In effect, He is saying that the fear of the LORD and the knowledge of God are synonymous. The fear of the LORD and wisdom are synonymous. The fear of the LORD and understanding are synonymous.
Even though we can give specific definitions to show that there is a distinctiveness to each one of them, He is teaching us that they are all related. They are all part of the same process. They all go together in the same package, and they cannot really be separated from each other.
Usually it is the fear of the LORD that gets us started, but He is warning us here to make sure it is also our goal. This is the way I put it in my notes: "The fear of the LORD, the knowledge of God, and understanding and wisdom are all part of the same salad." They are inextricably linked, and even though technically different, they, in reality, cannot be separated from the other.
Verse 9 on shows the benefits when we really go after God:
Proverbs 2:9-10 Then shall you understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yes, every good path. When wisdom enters into your heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto your soul.
It is as pleasant as when we create something we feel is beautiful that we made out of the materials God has made available to us.
Proverbs 2:11 Discretion shall preserve you, understanding shall keep you.
We want to be preserved for eternity.
Proverbs 2:12-13 To deliver you from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaks froward things, who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness.
I really have not gotten much into my subject, as I am laying the foundation here. It is very important that we understand the foundation before we can go on into something that is very important to knowing God.
II Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect. . .
Here again is this word "perfect." Remember from last week's sermon Paul wanted to be perfect, we are to go on to perfection—"That the man of God may be perfect." The Word of God plays a very important role in bringing a man to perfection.
II Timothy 3:17 . . .that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
We run into a problem here because there are some portions of Scripture that we tend to avoid, and that is natural. It does not mean that we are evil. There are some things we find that are a great deal more appealing than other things. For instance, the world tells us that their favorite portion of the Bible—a part they read very often and really like—is Psalm 23.
We have the same tendency within us. There are areas of Scripture that we like, and there are areas of Scripture that we do not like so well, and so we avoid them. But this verse says that "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and Matthew 4:4, Luke 4:4, and Deuteronomy 8 say that we are to live by every word of God.
It requires a great deal of discipline on our part to look into these portions of Scripture that we do not relate to very well. I just know that everybody within the sound of my voice really "loves" the begats, and we just spend all kinds of time going through those names that we cannot even pronounce, looking into the names of characters we do not know who they were.
Another thing we generally overlook or slide right by are dates that are given in the Bible. We have a difficult time relating to them. So to each one of us individually, there are some portions of Scripture that are more valuable to us than other portions of it. But I can guarantee you this, on the authority of God's Word, that all of it will be valuable to us sooner or later. It is all there for a purpose. It has been written in wisdom by the greatest mind that lives, and He has written it in such a way that it is always applicable. Not every part is equally applicable all the time, but sooner or later every portion of it over the course of a person's life is going to have some bearing on the quality of life the person is living.
Now the overall issue in the Bible is government. Maybe that is not exactly right. I could make that even broader by saying that the overall issue in the Bible is God's purpose. Perhaps the most important issue pertaining to God's purpose is government. I say that because God's overall purpose is introduced right in the first chapter of Genesis: "Let Us create man in Our image."
Government is then, in a bad light, introduced in the third chapter when Adam and Eve rejected the government of God. But then the subject broadens out. The Bible is concerned not only with God's government, but also with man's government, and self-government. The Bible shows how man rejects God's government through sin. It also shows how man's rule over men is abusive. It also shows us very clearly that men had better learn how to govern themselves, or nothing will ever work out.
It is also a book about faith, because faith is the operative power or responsibility for mankind. It is also a book about hope, which is the Kingdom of God. It is also a book about love, which has very much to do with government, and faith reveals itself in how it loves.
Here is an overall principle given in Romans 10. It is such a simple statement, but can very easily be taken wrong.
Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
By this verse Christ is named as the object of the Bible, the instruction of God. It is that toward which it is aimed. It does not mean that Christ is the conclusion of the law, except in one isolated sense, but rather He is the goal, He is the law, or He is the instruction goal. It is saying that He is what the law designs, that He is the personification of the law's intent.
Ephesians 4 tells us that "we are to grow in the knowledge of Christ, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." That is a very tall order. He is the standard. He is the personification of perfect faith, of perfect love, of perfect government. The purpose of the law, or the instruction of God, is to bring us to Christ, and so the law describes His character in very broad strokes.
The Bible, especially the Old Testament, is filled with types. We might also call them symbols, or emblems, or tokens, or allegories, but I am going to use the word types. There are typical people, typical things, typical events, and typical times. I can safely say that the great majority of these are typical of Christ or some aspect of His spiritual body, the church, but most assuredly they are typical of Christ.
Do you not hear the teaching of the law? Can you comprehend what is in the law? Can you comprehend what the application of the law is to be to a New Testament Christian?
Galatians 4:22-24 For it is written [in the law in Genesis] that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which genders to bondage, which is Hagar [and the other is Jerusalem].
Paul gives us an example here of a type. In this case it is an allegory. He then specifically tells us that this story about Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Ishmael, and Isaac is more than just a simple narrative leading from one place to another in the story, but it is an allegory as well. In other words, as important as the story is in terms of how it affected the continuation of the promises and where the promises are headed, or are to be given, it is also continuous in its application in certain spiritual circumstances as well.
We can clearly see there is a duality here. At least two uses, two functions, can be put to this one very brief story that on the surface only appears to be an interesting historical reference, but there was much there beneath the surface. One needs other portions of the Bible for understanding, and it may require a great deal of digging in order to grasp it specifically.
Beyond this brief reference of this allegory we can find that there are also typical books. For instance, Genesis gives us the overall purpose and it lays foundations. Genesis 1 tells us about the re-creation, and we know that there is going to be a spiritual re-creation of man. After we arrive at being a spiritual wreck in this world, we have to be re-created, as it were, into something that can serve God's purpose in His Kingdom.
Genesis 2 lays the foundation for what His purpose is—that He is re-creating, or reproducing Himself. It also tells us in there that we are "to dress and keep." "Dress" means "to enhance, to embellish." "Keep" means "to guard, to protect, or preserve." When you apply this to what it says in Genesis 1 about God's purpose, that He is creating us in His image, we know then from chapter 2, by the terms He is using, that it is going to have something to do with God's purpose.
We begin to look in other places, and we find that man, as he is created, has to be embellished into something else. As he is being embellished, he also has to be preserved. This tells us that we can be built into something more beautiful. As we are being made into something more beautiful, an effort has to be made to keep from backsliding. So there is a constant, continuous process that is going on.
Genesis 3 tells us how the world began. It also lays the foundation and gives us the first indication that there is going to have to be the shedding of blood. How did that occur in the third chapter? God had to kill animals in order to provide a covering for Adam and Eve. "Being naked" is a symbol of being without character, without the Spirit of God, without the character of God. But it takes blood. There has to be a death to cover this.
Also in that same chapter we have reference to the death of Christ as well. By the time we get to chapter 12, God is beginning to isolate the line through which the purpose is going to begin and be carried out in Abraham. Abraham is a type of the Father. Isaac is a type of the Son. Rebecca is a type of the church. Jacob is a type of the overcomer—the prevailer with God. And on and on it goes.
We get to Joseph, and we find that he is a type of Christ. Joseph was a savior of his people in a time of need so that they were able to be preserved. A type of Christ is there. The book ends with them in Egypt, and they are just about ready to go into captivity. Exodus 1 begins with them in captivity. They are now in slavery. Pharaoh is a type of Satan. Egypt is a type of the world. Israel is a type of the Christian who is in slavery within the world to Satan.
The main theme in the book of Exodus is redemption—being taken out from that slavery at the price of the Passover lamb. The book of Exodus ends with the dedication of the Tabernacle. That ought to tell you something. The Tabernacle represents the church—you and me collectively. We have been redeemed and we are now built into a body.
When we get to the end of the book of Exodus, and go into the book of Leviticus, the book of Leviticus begins with the word "And." It is a continuation. What is the book of Leviticus about? It is about consecration. It is about devotion to God. It is about holiness. It is about continuing access to God, without which we will go back to the world.
We now get to Numbers. What is it about? Numbers is a typical book all about the wilderness wandering—the struggles and trials of the pilgrim on his way. Now you get to the book of Deuteronomy. It is symbolic of final preparation before going into the Kingdom. Brethren, pay attention to the book of Deuteronomy. It applies to you and me. The book of Deuteronomy was written in the last month before they took the land.
You might also begin to be paying attention to the book of Joshua, because it is a type of Israel going into the land and claiming their inheritance. Does that ring a bell? We are just about ready to claim our inheritance under Jesus Christ. He is our Joshua. What are we going to be doing? There are types contained within that book. There is a duality there.
Now I am going to string several scriptures together that do not need a great deal of expounding.
Hebrews 9:1 Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. . . .
Hebrews 9:8-9 The Holy Spirit thus signifying that the way [access ] into the holiest [the presence of God] was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Which was a figure [a type, a symbol, an emblem, a token] for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience.
Very many of those things back in the Old Testament—things that really have to be dug out through a conscious effort to study into them, to scrutinize them, and to come to understand their New Testament application—were object lessons that God made those people go through for you and me. I Corinthians 10:11 tells us that all these things happened unto them as examples to us upon whom the end—the purpose, the goal, the object—of the age is for.
Hebrews 10:1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
We are to live by every Word of God, are we not? They are there for our instruction, and we are to get the teaching that is there, and apply that teaching, understanding, and wisdom to our lives so we can come to the image of God.
Now who is the object of the law? It is Christ. We want to be in His image. Are you beginning to get the point? Christ is described in great detail in the Old Testament, but it is contained in circumstances that require a bit of effort to find. But believe me, brethren; once you begin to get into it, the teaching in the Old Testament is in a way so much deeper than what is in the New Testament that there is hardly any comparison.
The New Testament, especially Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, is very elementary. I mean very. It is almost like preschool. There are some books in the New Testament that are graduate material, like the book of Hebrews. That is a deep, deep book. Why? It is the one book in the New Testament that most closely resembles an Old Testament book and that is why we have such difficulty with it.
God used the personalities and so forth of the people that He used to write the Old and New Testaments. Hebrew people using the Hebrew language were a little bit different from the Hebrew people using the Greek language. Things had changed somewhat over the centuries. Language makes a people, and at the same time language is a reflection of the people. There was a good reason why God used Greek, and a good reason why He used Hebrew. Both languages were used because the two of them together give us a much better picture than either one of and by itself would have. Until we have a perfect language, we have to use these two—Hebrew and Greek.
This is my personal opinion, but I sincerely believe that there is no language on earth that can compare with English in terms of its breadth of expression, and it is the language God has used at the end time to spread the gospel. It is the language of business. It is the language of diplomacy. It is the language that people everywhere are able to grasp, and I believe that when the Two Witnesses preach, they are going to speak in English because it comes as close to being a universal language as there is right now.
Incidentally I have learned recently that there is very much in the English language related to the Hebrew. That was a discovery I made recently. We could always see the Greek connection, but there is very much of the Hebrew that remains in the English and has come down with the Israelitish people.
There is one more thing I want to get out of Hebrews 10:1.
Hebrews 10:1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come.
Did you notice the present tense usage in "having a shadow"? It is not something that was just in the past. My guess is that it is very likely written in what we would say in English "present perfect." Now where there is a shadow, there must be a reality. There can be no shadow unless there is the reality. We are just told here that the law is the shadow. Who or where is the reality? The reality is Christ. The law is the reflection of that reality.
Let us go to one more verse and I think that this will be a good place to stop. It depends on how much I can expound. Luke 24:27 will continue that thought a little bit better about Christ being the object of the law. Verse 27 is the conclusion of Christ's walk with these men on the road to Emmaus after the resurrection.
Luke 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
Brethren, as I was telling you, there is more in the Old Testament about Christ than there is in the New. The book is twice as big, and there is an awful lot in there. In the Old Testament we have Jesus Christ put under a microscope so we can look at Him in detail, if we are willing to spend the time and make the effort to be able to do so.
Do not make the mistake of thinking of the sacrifices as being childish, or insignificant, or primitive, or barbaric. God's intent all along was to make sure that this would be a teaching vehicle for His children. Christ is the object of that law. Those under the Old Covenant looked forward to that sacrifice and when it would occur. We look backwards at what did occur.
Let us finish on one of my favorite Scriptures in Hebrews 2:9-10. It is one of my favorites simply because it teaches me something that I need, for some reason, to be reminded of so often. If you go all the way back to verse 5, you can begin to understand that he is talking about man and how it is kind of a mystery what God is doing. It is not a mystery to us though.
Hebrews 2:9-10 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him [Christ], for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory [you and me], to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
The word "captain" is from the Greek archegos. Archegos means a leader, a pioneer, a forerunner, or an author. In profane Greek writings it is frequently translated "a scout." All these have the same general implication. An archegos is one who goes before, doing things with the intent that others should follow and do what he did. Imitate.
Christ is our archegos. He is our Forerunner. He is our Captain. The captain term might be used in terms of a battle or warfare. The captain goes forward, fully expecting that those who follow—the lieutenant, the sergeant, the private—are going to do what he is doing in following him. Do you get the point? Do you get the understanding there?
Now Christ is our example. In I Corinthians 11 Paul said, "Be you followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." Christ is the One who is our archegos. He is represented in all of those types. We are to extract knowledge, understanding, and wisdom from those things, and as much as lies within them, apply the lesson, the example to our lives. That is their intent. Everything of course cannot apply to us specifically, because they were specifically made as forerunners to Christ, but we are to follow Him, to imitate Him as best we possibly can.
Let us at least hold onto that closing thought. He is our example. He is a perfect example to the intent that we should follow Him as close as we possibly can in what He did, in the way He spoke, in the way He heard, and in the way He walked His life. We are going to learn from these types that are in the Old Testament.