The Holy Spirit (Part Twenty-six)

Acts 10:37-38

You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him (NIV).

We have seen how the Lord Jesus was anointed by the Spirit of God for the work that the Father gave him to so. After his baptism, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into conflict with Satan. Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1; cf. Luke 4:1). Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8), and by God’s will this happened through close combat. The Spirit leads us to overcome the evil one the same way. We engage in struggles with the spiritual forces of evil. We can expect to be attacked! The walk of faith is not a pleasant walk in the park.

Here are two observations about the temptation of Jesus:

  • This was not the only time Jesus was tempted (cf. Luke 4:11; Mathew 16:23). It was the start of an ongoing conflict as the light of the new creation began to push back the darkness of the old, fallen creation.
  • The temptation of Jesus has a two-level significance. Usually Christians consider it as a moral example. Jesus shows us how to face temptation (cf. 1 Peter 2:21; cf. Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11). But it also is significant in redemptive history. Jesus, the Last Adam, entered into conflict with the evil one in a far worse place than did the First Adam. Christ faced the same kind of tests (hunger, ambition, authority), but he defeated the enemy. Jesus was the “first wave” of God’s invasion force. King Jesus stepped out of “the landing craft” first and made a beachhead. We follow in his path.

Consider the Spirit’s leadership of Jesus in this conflict. Notice that Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1 NIV). In other words, Jesus was enabled by the Holy Spirit to go out and declare God’s message boldly. The Spirit led Jesus to defeat the enemy through the Scriptures. Jesus, the new Israel, went into the desert for forty days (a symbolic reflection of Israel’s forty years of wandering) and while there he was attacked by the evil one (in contrast to old covenant Israel, who willingly followed the idols of demons in the wilderness, Acts 7:41-43; 1 Corinthians 10:20). Jesus replied to Satan’s temptations by using the Biblical instruction (Torah or law) given to Israel and he submitted to God’s instruction. As Jesus trusted God and obeyed, he received the fulfillment of God’s promise that Satan had misused (cf. Mark 1:13)

How must you and I face attacks from the spiritual forces of evil? As Spirit-filled people (Ephesians 5:18; 6:10), we must use the full armor of God. Note especially Ephesians 6:17-18! Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people (NIV). Yes, the Bible does “tie together”, being the work of one Master Author, the Holy Spirit. Knowing this is one matter; it is quite another to pray and to be led by the Holy Spirit. It is active dependence on our Almighty leader. Get up, then, and be ready to use the full armor of God!

Grace and peace, David

Thoughts on Leviticus (Part Two)

img_3270Leviticus 9

And Moses said, “This is the thing that the Lord commanded you to do, that the glory of the Lord may appear to you” (Leviticus 9:6 ESV).

Leviticus presents the worship and way of life of God’s old covenant people. The time of the law or old covenant occupied a specific period in the history of redemption. It started at the giving of the law covenant at Sinai after the exodus from Egypt. It ended with the great events of the gospel: Christ’s death, resurrection, ascension, and pouring out of the Spirit on Pentecost. God’s people under the law were required to live under its rituals and regulations. We look at that time from the perspective of its fulfillment in Jesus the Messiah. Or, perhaps I should say, we ought to look at them that way. But do we know enough about that time to understand what God was doing during the working out of his plan in redemptive history?

Exodus tells the story of God setting his people free from slavery in Egypt, the formation of Israel as his covenant people, the giving of the law covenant, and the building of the tabernacle. It was at the tabernacle that the sacrifices listed in Leviticus 1-7 had to be offered. Leviticus 8 tells us about the consecration of Aaron and his sons to offer the sacrifices of the law. Here we see the binding together of the priesthood and the law as referred to in Hebrews 7:11-12.

This brings us to Leviticus 9. The significance of this chapter is overlooked, because we forget or fail to consider the larger story of God. When God gave the law, he caused his glory to shine (Exodus 19-24). After the people had sinned with the golden calf, Moses pleaded that he would let him see his glory (Exodus 33). When the tabernacle was set up, the Lord’s glory filled it (Exodus 40:34-38). In our text at the start of this article, Moses told Aaron and his sons that the Lord had promised an appearance of his glory to them. The living God had committed to make known his glory through their worship. People could know that the God of glory was with them. He was in a covenant relationship with them. The glorious God had accepted them as his people.

The end of the chapter records the historical event of this fulfilled promise. Aaron made the prescribed offerings, as the Lord had commanded (Leviticus 9:8-22). Read that passage like you were there watching. What would happen next? And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting, and when they came out they blessed the people, and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar, and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces (Leviticus 9:23-24). Some truths to think about:

  • Moses and Aaron went in the tabernacle after they had done what the Lord had commanded. The ministry of the priests had begun, and there was access to God.
  • When they came out of the tabernacle, they blessed the people. This was an event for the whole covenant community.
  • Next, the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. God kept his promise. Later through Isaiah, the Lord God made another promise of the appearance of his glory through his Son. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken (Isaiah 40:5).
  • God answered by fire from heaven. Later this would happen at the dedication of the temple (2 Chronicles 7:1) and when Elijah opposed the false prophets (1 Kings 18:38).
  • The response of the people was praise and worship

In the new covenant, we also experience the glory of God. On Pentecost, tongues of fire appeared to the church and rested on every member. The Spirit of God had been poured out on the people of God. Now, we are in Christ, our new covenant with God. We have surpassing glory (2 Corinthians 3:10) and the Spirit of glory and of God rests on us (1 Peter 4:14), the whole new covenant community. Do we respond with praise and worship?

Grace and peace, David