Living in God’s Holy Presence: Finally there! (Lev. 26:11-13, John 2:18-22, Rev. 21:3-4, 21:22-22:5)

Publié le 4 avril 2021 dans Traductions

Sermon by Pastor Samuel Niblack

Today, Easter Sunday, we will finish our series in the book of Leviticus. You might be wondering, but what does this have to do with the resurrection of Jesus? On his way to Emmaus, Jesus explained to his two disciples that in the book of Leviticus, Moses spoke of him, of his death and his resurrection. On Easter Sunday, right after the resurrection, Jesus actually studied the book of Leviticus with his disciples.

The Book of Luke says that the two disciples had the pleasure to see Jesus, but what they could draw from their experience, what really warmed their hearts, was to see that the whole Bible speaks of Jesus (Lk 24:32). Not only are the Christian faith and the resurrection supported by the testimony of the apostles (in the New Testament), but also by the richness, the unity, and the beauty of the whole Bible, which is consistent over centuries of history, and which is made clearer in the light of the resurrection.

Scripture Reading: Leviticus 26.11-13: “I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.”

John 2.18-22: “The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.”

Revelation 21.3-4: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Revelation 21.22-22.5: “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.”

The great scheme of Leviticus is to make God and his people leave together. But the question is: do we really want to live in God’s house?

It is like children playing ball on a vacant lot of a house whose owner is unknown. Some say that it’s a haunted house while some others say that the owner is mean and ugly; others even say that it’s an abandoned house. One day, the children break a window with the ball, which makes the situation worse, and they are even more afraid of the owner. Yet they find the courage to look for the ball and see that the owner has actually nothing to do with their preconceived ideas. He is very nice, and he welcomes them, and from that day on, they are welcomed. You may be right at that point with God. You have a lot of preconceived ideas: He abandoned our world… He’s a ghost from the past… He’s mean…

I will try to break down prejudices, and I invite you this morning to enjoy his divine hospitality. (At this time when we have fewer opportunities for entertaining, it will certainly do us some good.)

Leviticus is an attempt to open access to the house of God, and his presence. But there are many obstacles. The holy and the profane, the clean and the unclean, sin and holiness, life and death can’t coexist. So, God set up the Levitical worship centered around the tabernacle, a symbolic house, a mobile temple where the people could go: “a holy dwelling” (Ex. 15.13).

The book of Leviticus describes in detail:-

  • the rituals of sacrifices and offerings
  • the rules for priests
  • the laws of ritual purity
  • the Day of Atonement
  • the laws of moral purity and personal holiness
  • the rites of worship (7 feasts of the Lord)

But the Levitical system didn’t really work. It points to the holy dwelling, but it doesn’t take us there.

But through his resurrection, Jesus allows us to live with God, in his house, forever. One day we will eventually be there. This morning my objective is to help you have the desire to enjoy divine hospitality.

My three points this morning: 1. Visiting the house (the dwelling place, v11); 2. Enjoying rest (v13); 3. Sharing communion (v12).

1. Visiting the house

You get to know someone when you see where they live. In France, what is the first thing you do when you welcome people at home? You take them around the house. Now, let’s think of the house of God, his dwelling place.

Lev. 26: 11: “I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you.” The term “dwelling place” is the same as “tabernacle”. The tabernacle was a bright place, a clean place, a holy place, a very beautiful place; with artistic design, color and harmony, everything was made of gold; a place full of life. But ch 26 refers to future blessings.

The tabernacle is highly symbolic. God doesn’t really live in a 70 square-meter tent. (There would be no room whether for God or for us!)

The tabernacle –and later the temple– was a small image of paradise, that is the Garden of Eden, where man and God were dwelling together.

  1. The cherubim on the veil, like the cherubim guarding the entrance to the garden: no entry!
  2. The east / west layout
  3. The tree of life, the candlestick in the shape of the tree of life
  4. The vocation of Adam identical to that of priests: « to work and to keep »
  5. Its location on a summit, a mountain

Recently, my family and I watched My Father’s Glory, a well-known movie based on the autobiographical novel written by famous French author Marcel Pagnol. The charm of the book is rooted in the authors childhood memories of his parents house in the hills. Likewise, we humans also keep memories of the dwelling place of our Heavenly Father, our Creator. And we won’t feel at home until we dwell there.

In the same way, the Garden of Eden itself was a small glimpse, on a small scale, of what it is to live with God.

The Bible ends visiting God’s ultimate home / His dwelling place. Rev 21:22, “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.”

God himself is our dwelling place, and we are his dwelling place, thanks to Jesus. The whole world becomes Gods dwelling place. He said, I will “prepare a place for you… so that where I am, you will be there too.” (John 14:2-3). Will you turn down such an invitation?

2. Enjoying rest

After visiting the house, what do you do when you enjoy lovely hospitality and perfect stewardship? You just sit down and relax: it’s rest. When you ask, “Is there anything I can do to help,” the hostess answers, “No, thanks, everything’s okay. Just sit and relax.”

Everyone dreams of a big beautiful house, but in this world, reality catches up with us very fast: house cleaning, maintenance, the cost of repairs, etc. If we could only have the beautiful house with rest…!

This is a major theme of Leviticus and of the whole Bible. v13: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians…” God used the concept of the Sabbath and the number 7, as we saw in the video, to teach this.

Again, all of this also brings us back to the beginning, to the Creation. In some translations, the first sentence of the Bible is made up of 7 words. The first chapter of the Bible, Creation Week, revolves around 7 days. The last day is the day God rests. It is sometimes said that the culmination of creation is on the 6th day with the creation of man, and even better, woman! But even greater, it is the 7th day, made for man, where man and God are together in heavenly rest where everything looks good, and peace is infinite. That’s the final purpose.

And now you understand why Jesus was resurrected on the 3rd day, (crucified on the eve of the sabbath, resurrected the day after the sabbath = 3 days) on the first day of a new week. Just as God has completed his work, Christ has completed his, and he now offers permanent rest for his people. The Book of Hebrews, which primarily comments on Leviticus, mainly speaks of rest and extends the invitation, “Now we who have believed enter that rest” (Heb.4:3). Believing in Jesus is resting in him. Not asking him, « What can I do to help you save myself? »

3. Sharing communion

The real joy of hospitality is not just the setting, the place, the house, or even the rest, but it is also communion, it is sharing, it is seeing each other face to face, getting to know each other. V12, “I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.” It speaks of fellowship. Likewise, after a good meal, we go out for a walk together.

There is another scene in Leviticus reflecting that. Look at Lev. 24: 4-8, “The lamps on the pure gold lampstand before the LORD must be tended continually. “Take the finest flour and bake twelve loaves of bread, using two-tenths of an ephah for each loaf. Arrange them in two stacks, six in each stack, on the table of pure gold before the LORD. By each stack put some pure incense as a memorial portion to represent the bread and to be a food offering presented to the LORD. This bread is to be set out before the LORD regularly, Sabbath after Sabbath, on behalf of the Israelites, as a lasting covenant.” There were the two stacks of twelve loaves on the table, renewed every Sabbath, with the light which was especially pointed to illuminate them (Nu. 8:2, “Speak to Aaron and say to him, ‘When you set up the lamps, see that all seven light up the area in front of the lampstand.’”) It clearly represents the will of God that his people, 12 tribes, live in his presence, enlightened by his light, at the table with him, in the blessing and total rest of God. This is a pictorial way of summarizing the blessing: Nu. 6: 24-26, “‘The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.’”

This is exactly what Rev 22: 3-5 describes, “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.”

All THAT thanks to the resurrection!

And do you know what Jesus did repeatedly to show himself to his disciples? He entertained them for a meal, or he went to their home to share a meal with them!