A Sanctuary to Preserve the Good and the Holy: Designed by God; Built by Man; on Christ’s Foundation

BLCF: Covenant-of-God

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘A Sanctuary to Preserve the Good and the Holy: Designed by God; Built by Man; on Christ’s Foundation’        

 © May 22, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin May 22, 2016

Based  on a Message shared at BLCF on March 23 2014

BLCF: God's_Promise_to_Noah_in_the_Rainbow

 Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #592 (God, The Creator – Genesis 1 and 2, Psalm 33); Prayer

Opening Hymn #313: My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less; Choruses

Scripture Verses: Genesis 6:1-3, 2 Peter 2:4-10, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Genesis 6:1-3 (ESV) Increasing Corruption on Earth

BLCF: Genesis_6_5

6 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in[a] man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.”

Footnotes: a. Genesis 6:3 Or My Spirit shall not contend with

2 Peter 2:4-10 (ESV)

BLCF: fallen-angels

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell[a] and committed them to chains[b] of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;[c] and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials,[d] and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge[e] in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)

BLCF: body is a temple for the Spirit

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.                                                                                

Footnotes: a. 2 Peter 2:4 Greek Tartarus b. 2 Peter 2:4 Some manuscripts pits c. 2 Peter 2:6 Some manuscripts an example to those who were to be ungodly d. 2 Peter 2:9 Or temptations e. 2 Peter 2:10 Greek who go after the flesh

BLCF: Sign_of_Noah

Let us pray…

For the Call to Worship this morning, we read a Responsive Reading, which is an abstract of Genesis, Chapters 1 and 2, as well as Psalm 33. This reading gives us an account of God’s creation, where we read that God saw His creation as being “good”.

We fast forward to the Scripture verses, which describe a world where God’s creation becomes progressively corrupt. As the timeline is after Adam and Eve’s fall from Grace in the Garden of Eden, we may conclude that the root of the corruption of the human race is sin.

Because of the corruption and sin, God comments that His Spirit will not abide or contend with man forever and limits the span of human life to 120 years. In fact, God is grieved so much by the sin that He contemplates the destruction of all life, (of all flesh), upon the face of the earth. However, there remained one good man named Noah, who God judged walked a righteous path. Therefore, Noah was blameless of sin and did not deserve the judgement of death that was due to rest of sinful humanity.

Our first Scripture verse comes from Genesis, Chapter 6, where the Lord instructed Noah to build an ark to preserve the remnants of good from what He had created. That good remnant consisted of Noah, Noah’s family, and the animals that God had created.

We all know the story of the Great Flood, where God rendered His judgment upon the world by a massive flood, as we see that He instructed Noah to construct an ark in Genesis 6, verses 9-22:

Genesis 6:9-22 (ESV) Noah and the Flood

BLCF: ark_dimension

These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh,[a] for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood.[b] Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits,[c] its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. 16 Make a roof[d] for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. 21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.” 22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.                                                          

Footnotes: a. Genesis 6:13 Hebrew The end of all flesh has come before me b. Genesis 6:14 An unknown kind of tree; transliterated from Hebrew c. Genesis 6:15 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters d. Genesis 6:16 Or skylight

BLCF: Noah_the_truth

A flood can be an extremely frightening and deadly experience. Now I am not talking about the Hollywood portrayal with Russell Crowe as Noah,  the Master and Commander of the ark. If you have witnessed a flash flood, as periodically occurs in the southwestern United States, you have some idea of the deadly ferocity unleashed by a sudden deluge.

BLCF: Gonzales-Warm-Springs-Texas

                         Gonzales Warm Springs Texas

I recall when I was a young boy in Texas, my younger sister, Rhona, had at the age of 3 years, had suffered a traumatic spinal injury leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. At the time, San Antonio had no rehabilitation center for young children and so Rhona was sent to Gonzales Warm Springs, a rehabilitation center was built for polio victims, who were taught ways to cope with their disabilities that included: how to use  a wheelchair, how to walk with crutches and physical recovery by way of physiotherapy.

Because Warm Springs was over two hour round trip drive from San Antonio and my dad was working two jobs, six days a week, to help pay the medical bills, our family were only able to visit with Rhona one day a week, Sunday.

Mom and Dad tried to make our Sunday visits an enjoyable a reunion for Rhona, my other sister Penny and me possible, by planning family picnic outings to the nearby local Pimento State Park. Pimento Park, adjacent to the Warm Springs Rehabilitation Centre, had flora and fauna that was unique to the Texas region. The volcanic hot springs and sulphur pools raised the ambient temperatures from a semi-tropical to a tropical range, allowing the park to host a variety tropical plant and animal species typically found in Central America.

Much of the park was located  well below grade, along the banks of the San Marcos River, a tributary of the Guadalupe River. Both waters merged some two miles south of the park. According to plaques and signs, most of the park’s buildings, outdoor bar-b-queue fireplaces and even park benches, which blended well with the natural park setting, were constructed from local fieldstone, by crews of the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC in the 1930’s. The CCC was a federal work project started by President Franklin Roosevelt to generate much needed jobs during the Great Depression. The work of the CCC included creating buildings, bridges, dams, roads, and other structures to improve the infrastructure across the United States.

BLCF: flash-flood-watch

However, Palmetto Park’s rustic charm and natural beauty gave way to a scene of life-threatening danger, when one Sunday, following heavy thunderstorms further north in the Texas Hill Country had generated massive flash floods on the San Marcos River. That Sunday, as our car came over a rise or hill just before the entrance to the park, instead of driving down a steep incline of some thirty feet or ten meters, dad suddenly stopped the car, with the front bumper of the vehicle located just a meter or a few feet from a raging torrent of water.

The San Marcos, normally a gentle stream in the park had swollen to become a fast-flowing, massive rushing river that carried large picnic tables, tree trunks and other debris across our field of view and quickly downstream.

BLCF: flash-flood

                                          San Marcos River

Dad’s car was a Blue 1955 Chevy Nomad Station Wagon, equipped with a column mounted standard transmission. Even though I was six, I was well aware, from watching dad drive the Chevy, that in a matter of seconds, he needed to take his right foot off the brake pedal and move it to the gas pedal. Then with his left foot on the clutch, dad needed to shift the car into reverse gear, all simultaneously, in order to keep us from heading into the raging river, now over 60 feet deep, in front of us. A slow shift or possible engine stall would likely mean certain death. Fortunately, dad did reverse the Nomad. Otherwise, I would not be sharing this story with you.

The quickly rising flood waters of the San Marcos River does give us some idea of the horror of the flood in Noah’s times. However, in Noah’s time, it was not just a flash flood and there was no higher ground where one could escape a watery demise. The only sanctuary or place of safety for Noah and his family was that afforded by the ark. Without the ark, all life would have been lost. As I mentioned in a previous Sunday message, the flood that God had leashed upon the earth, had reset God’s creation back to day number three, where the land was eventually parted from the waters, and the animals were created.

After the floods had receded, God promised Noah and humanity to never bring such a massive flood on a global scale, making the rainbow as a sign of His covenant or promise.

 The next Scripture I would like to share is 2 Pete 2, verses 4-10, which speaks of God’s casting those who have sinned against Him, including Satan and his followers, who will be cast into hell, enchained in the darkness until the time of their judgment. The passage tells of those who sinned in Noah’s time and suffered death from the flood, as well as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. But we must take hope in those who did not follow an ungodly path and were saved from destruction, including Noah and Lot, as well as the majority of the heavenly hosts or angels who did not rebel against God.

If you look on the back of today’s bulletin, let us now read the account where God instructed Moses to build another kind of an ark, The Ark of the Covenant:

Exodus 25:1-16 (ESV) Contributions for the Sanctuary

BLCF: ark-of-the-coenant

25 The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me. And this is the contribution that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats’ hair, tanned rams’ skins, goatskins,[a] acacia wood, oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.

The Ark of the Covenant

BLCF: Ark_of_the_Covenant

10 “They shall make an ark of acacia wood. Two cubits[b] and a half shall be its length, a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. 11 You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and outside shall you overlay it, and you shall make on it a molding of gold around it. 12 You shall cast four rings of gold for it and put them on its four feet, two rings on the one side of it, and two rings on the other side of it. 13 You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. 14 And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark by them. 15 The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. 16 And you shall put into the ark the testimony that I shall give you.

Footnotes: a. Exodus 25:5 Uncertain; possibly dolphin skins, or dugong skins; compare 26:14 b. Exodus 25:10 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters

While Noah’s Ark provided for Noah, Noah’s family and the animals a sanctuary from a deadly worldwide flood, the Ark built by Moses served a different purpose. God had desired to have Moses construct a suitable sanctuary so that He might dwell in the midst of the people of Israel. And God instructed to place within the ark, the tablets upon which God wrote His Ten Laws or Commandments. The Ark of the Covenant would be a sanctuary for both God’s Laws and His Holy Spirit.

But what is the definition of a sanctuary? Do we not call this very place of worship at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship, a sanctuary, as well? Let us see what we mean by this term from an online dictionary:

BLCF: sanctuary

Sanctuary sanc·tu·ar·y /ˈsæŋktʃuˌɛri/ Show Spelled [sangk-choo-er-ee] Show IPA noun, plural sanc·tu·ar·ies.

  1. a sacred or holy place.
  2. Judaism.
  3. the Biblical tabernacleor the Temple in Jerusalem.
  4. the holy of holies of these places of worship.
  5. an especially holy place in a temple or church.
  6. the part of a church around the altar; the chancel.
  7. a church or other sacred place where fugitives were formerly entitled to immunity from arrest.

Remember, just before the flood in Noah’s time, God had distanced Himself from humanity, as we read in Genesis 6, verse 3, which is printed on the bottom inside left page of your bulletin:

Genesis 6:1-3 (ESV)

BLCF: Life Restored Through Jesus

Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in[a] man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.”

Footnotes: a. Genesis 6:3 Or My Spirit shall not contend with

After the flood, we read that God sought to draw closer to His creation see in Exodus 25, verse 8:

And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.

Eventually, after the Great Flood, sin returned, driving humanity from their Creator. And even God’s presence in the Ark of the Covenant could not assure a sinless humanity. So God revealed His plan for reconciliation from sin, by dwelling in the hearts of the faithful, as we see in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 6, verses 19-20:

 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)

BLCF: 2-corinthians-4_7

 Jars of Clay – Arks of the New Covenant

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.                                                                                

Footnotes: a. 2 Peter 2:4 Greek Tartarus b. 2 Peter 2:4 Some manuscripts pits c. 2 Peter 2:6 Some manuscripts an example to those who were to be ungodly d. 2 Peter 2:9 Or temptations e. 2 Peter 2:10 Greek who go after the flesh

To conclude this morning’s message, I would like to read again from 1 Corinthians, but this time from Chapter 3, verses 10-17, which the Apostle Paul describes a new blueprint for a new temple, a new sanctuary, demonstrates God’s New Covenant through Jesus Christ. This new sanctuary, like Noah’s ark, provides life and freedom from God’s judgment of death. And like Moses’ Ark of the Covenant, all believers may keep both God’s Laws and the presence of His Holy Spirit:

1 Corinthians 3:10-17 (ESV)

Unhindered in Christ

      Leave the baggage behind!

10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

16 Do you not know that you[a] are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 3:16 The Greek for you is plural in verses 16 and 17

We read in this passage of Scripture, that the Apostle Paul explains that God has planned a way to reconcile humanity in spite of our sins. That through Christ, by our faith in his sacrifice, we may construct a Holy Temple within ourselves, suitable as a sanctuary for God’s Holy Spirit and His Law. And by way of our trust and obedience, through Jesus, we have become sanctified, living sanctuaries, within which the Holy Spirit may reside, with God’s Covenant of eternal life. Through Christ, God may no longer be absent from us as described in Genesis 6. We see now that God has returned to us, by way of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #40: To God Be the Glory

Benediction – (Hebrews 13:20-21): Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

BLCF: Hebrews-8-7-Old-and-New-Covenants

Advertisements

Jesus Paid It Forward: Surrendering Sin’s Wages for the Gift of Eternal Life

BLCF: Genesis_2_17

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Jesus Paid It Forward: Surrendering Sin’s Wages for the Gift of Eternal Life’

© May 15, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin May 15, 2016

 BLCF: Paying_it_forward

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #652:                                         (Divine Judgment– 2 Peter3); Prayer                                                                                             

Opening Hymn #392: Take Time to Be Holy; Choruses                                                                    

Prayer and Tithing – Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayer Requests                                          

Scripture Verses: Romans 6:20-23; Genesis 1:1-5; Genesis 2:1-17; and Genesis 3:22-24

 

BLCF: Jesus-paid-it-all

Let us pray…

Our lesson today at BLCF Church will examine how Jesus “Paid It Forward” to all believers when he surrendered his life upon the cross as payment for God’s judgment for all of humanity’s sins.

If you are unfamiliar with the story of Pay it Forward, let us briefly look at this film, released in 2000:

Pay It Forward (Plot – WIKIPEDIA.COM)

BLCF: Pay_It_Forward

When Trevor McKinney begins seventh grade in Las Vegas, Nevada, his social studies teacher Eugene Simonet gives the class an assignment to devise and put into action a plan that will change the world for the better. Trevor’s plan is a charitable program based on the networking of good deeds. He calls his plan “pay it forward“, which means the recipient of a favor does a favor for three others rather than paying the favor back. However, it needs to be a major favor that the recipient cannot complete themselves.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pay_It_Forward_%28film%29

For those who do not believe or refuse to accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, there is a tab, a debt, a deficit that accumulates with sinful behavior. But only a single sin against God will earn the sinner a judgment of death. This debt cannot be removed or cleared by good deeds, as we read in today’s first Scripture Verse:

Romans 6:20-23 (ESV)

BLCF:SlaveToSin

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We see in the above verse, that our faith in Jesus sacrifice for our sins will brings us the free gifts of sanctification for sin’s judgment and an eternal life. This brings us to the next three Scripture passages from the Book of genesis:

Genesis 1:1-5 (ESV) The Creation of the World

BLCF: Genesis1-1

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

In Genesis 1:1-5, we read that God created light upon the earth before He made the sun and moon.  So that original light is different from the light we associate as being generated by the sun, and we will come back to this light, later in today’s lesson. But let us see what happens after God created heavens and the earth in Genesis 2:1-17:

Genesis 2:1-17 (ESV) The Seventh Day, God Rests

BLCF: Genesis_Chapter_2-4

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.

When no bush of the field[a] was yet in the land[b] and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist[c] was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10 A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat[d] of it you shall surely die.”

Footnotes: a. Genesis 2:5 Or open country b. Genesis 2:5 Or earth; also verse 6 c. Genesis 2:6 Or spring d. Genesis 2:17 Or when you eat

We see in Genesis 2 Passage that there are two trees mentioned in Genesis 2:9: the “Tree of Life” and the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil”.  God forbids Adam and Eve from eating only the fruit from the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil”, which implies that all other fruit may be consumed, including fruit from the “Tree of Life.” This implies that Adam and Eve may enjoy eternal life in the company of their Creator by eating from this “Tree of Life”.

It is only after Adam and Eve disobey God by eating the forbidden fruit of the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil”, that they are subject to the judgment God warned in Genesis 2:17, which is death. Fearing that the sinners being aware that the “Tree of Life” will commute their death sentence, God expels Adam and eve from this Garden Paradise:

Genesis 3:22-24 (ESV)

BLCF: AdamEveCastOut

22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

This death sentence inflicted upon humanity can be removed and access to the “Tree of life: restored, by the grace provided to those who believe that Christ Jesus died for those believers. Those who choose to confess their sin and their faith that Jesus died for the sins’ punishment will be given both salvation and the gift of god’s Holy Spirit. The believers must demonstrate their faith by following Christ’s direction by heeding to the direction of the Spirit:

Revelation 2:7 (ESV)

BLCF: the-lord-jesus-is-the-tree-of-life-kathy-clark

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

Not only are believers, who are servants of God, are gifted with salvation from God’s judgment and granted God’s presence in the Holy Spirit, they are promised access to the “Tree of Life”, which gives eternal life.

Revelation 22:1-5 (ESV) The River of Life

BLCF: God_reveals_Himself

22 Then the angel[a] showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life[b] with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants[c] will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Footnotes: a Revelation 22:1 Greek he b. Revelation 22:2 Or the Lamb. In the midst of the street of the city, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life c. Revelation 22:3 Greek bondservants; also verse 6

The descendants of Adam and Eve, who have faith in Christ will find restoration paid forward to them by their Lord Jesus and they will not only eat from the “Tree of Life”, but will be able to see the face of God illuminated eternally by Him. You may recall earlier in today’s lesson Genesis 1:3, that the illumination from God presence is so great that there no need for either the sunlight or lamplight. Those who are without faith or who refuse salvation are excluded from these free gifts:

Revelation 22:14-17 (ESV)

BLCF: rivers-of-living-water

14 Blessed are those who wash their robes,[a] so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Footnotes: a. Revelation 22:14 Some manuscripts do his commandments

But until the day that the Lord, Christ Jesus returns, believers are not expected to wait idly, but to minister the Gospel of Jesus, to the glory of God:

Ecclesiastes 3:9-15 (ESV) The God-Given Task

BLCF: God-given-task

What gain has the worker from his toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him.  God seeks what has been driven away.[a]

Footnotes: a, Ecclesiastes 3:15 Hebrew what has been pursued

Not only has the Lord provided, through faith in Jesus, a path to salvation, to Paradise and the presence of God, but we will no longer be subject to the confines of time, for with the gift of eternal life, we may share with the Lord what eternity, provided we are patient and faithful to Him:

2 Peter 3:8-10 (ESV)

BLCF: Jesus Returns

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,[a] not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies[b] will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.[c]

Footnotes: a. 2 Peter 3:9 Some manuscripts on your account b. 2 Peter 3:10 Or elements; also verse 12 c. 2 Peter 3:10 Greek found; some manuscripts will be burned up

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #35: Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise

Benediction – (1 Timothy 1:17): To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.  Amen.

BLCF: Faith_CTB

Mother’s Day Message: Treasures of a Godly Woman, Mary Mother of Jesus

BLCF: Jesus_and_mary_manger_by_bnw2040

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Treasures of a Godly Woman: Mary Mother of Jesus’ 

© May 8, 2016, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin May 8, 2016

Based on a Message Shared at BLCF on May 11, 2014, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: happy-mothers-day

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #628 (The Child Jesus – Luke 2); Prayer                                                                                                      

Opening Hymn #55: For the Beauty of the Earth

Scripture Verses: Luke 1:26-35, Matthew 12:46-50 and John 19:25-30  

BLCF: Mary-Nativity

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship. Since today is Mother’s Day, I would like to share best wishes to all the mothers in the congregation this morning. I think of the many special things a mother may ponder in her heart with regards to the actions of their children.

Although our younger children, Daniella and Jeffrey have their respective University and Secondary School graduations next month, I am reminded of our oldest child’s graduation ceremonies several years ago at the University of Guelph. Presiding over the Sashing Ceremonies for the graduates was Chancellor Lincoln Alexander, as you may know, had served as lawyer, parliamentarian, public servant, lieutenant-governor of Ontario.

 

Lincoln Alexander

                        Lincoln Alexander

The sashing ceremony itinerary listed Athena’s group of Honors Bachelor of Science Degree graduates near the end of proceedings on a warm afternoon. I was impressed that Mr. Alexander did not hurry the proceedings, taking a few moments to exchange remarks with each graduate before the sashing. His conversation with our daughter brought a broad grin to Athena, lasting throughout the ceremony and even afterward. I wondered what special words of advice or wisdom were spoken to Athena by the Chancellor. When Athena walked to over to us, I asked her what Lincoln Alexander had said to her and Athena replied that Mr. Alexander had asked her: “Is your momma here today?” To which Athena replied, “Yes she is.” Then the Chancellor said, “Well give her a big smile, this is an important day for your momma!” Athena wore that smile for the remainder of the day, as Mr. Alexander’s comments were right on point.

For our lesson today, I would like to examine Mary, the mother of Jesus, a special mother recorded in the Scriptures, including today’s scripture verses. These verses are listed in your bulletin, in their chronological order.

I would like to begin with reading Luke 1:26-35, where Mary receives some special news from God, by way of the angel, Gabriel:

Luke 1:26-35 (ESV) Birth of Jesus Foretold

BLCF: Advent -Mary and Angel

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed[a] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”[b] 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”[c]

35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[d] will be called holy—the Son of God.

Footnotes: a. Luke 1:27 That is, legally pledged to be married b. Luke 1:28 Some manuscripts add Blessed are you among women! c. Luke 1:34 Greek since I do not know a man d. Luke 1:35 Some manuscripts add of you

Not only does Mary, who is betrothed or engaged to marry Joseph, find out that she will become pregnant, but she has been chosen by God, to be the mother of a holy child, the Son of God, whom she is to name “Jesus”.

Luke 2:15-20 describes the visit to Bethlehem by shepherds of the field after they were informed by God’s angels of the birth of the Christ child.

Luke 2:15-20 (ESV)

BLCF: Jesus_Mary

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

After the shepherds departed, Luke indicates that Mary treasured up or pondered these things in her heart.

Our next Scripture passage gives us an idea of how Mary raised her son, Jesus, and the mother-son relationship Luke 2:41-51.

Luke 2:41-51 (ESV) The Boy Jesus in the Temple

BLCF: young Jesus in the Temple

41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents[a] saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”[b] 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.

Footnotes: a. Luke 2:48 Greek they b. Luke 2:49 Or about my Father’s business

We have in this Scripture, an indication of the love and concern Mary had for her son. In an account that sounds a little like the film, Home Alone, Jesus is left behind in Jerusalem, or should I say elected to remain in Jerusalem, following a Passover Feast. The young twelve-year-old Jesus is assumed to be with others in a group from Nazareth. However, after a day’s journey, Mary and Joseph then realize that Jesus is missing from the group. Jesus’ parents return to Jerusalem to look for their son. Three days later, Jesus who was missing for five days, was found in the temple, talking to the elders. Those present were amazed at young Jesus’ understanding of the Scripters, and his parents were astonished. This did not deter Mary, who was worried for her son’s safety, from chastising the boy, verses 48 – 50, of Luke 2:

 

BLCF: Mary_Jesus_Temple

48 And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them.

We also see that though the Son of the Most High must be in his Father’s house, Jesus did not forget his place with respect to his parents, as we read in verse 51 that:

51And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them.

And we read, again that Mary treasured up all these things in her heart. And though Jesus was raised to honour his parents, he obviously was instructed well with regard to the Scriptures, as he had demonstrated in the temple in Jerusalem.

The relationship between Mary and Jesus is described further in what I would like to refer as a Wiki Bits reference, though found at the Web site, biography.com:

 

BLCF: Miracle_Wedding_at_Cana

According to the Gospel of John (2:1-11), as Jesus was beginning his ministry, he and his disciples traveled with his mother, Mary, to a wedding at Cana in Galilee. The wedding host had run out of wine and Jesus’s mother came to him for help. At first, Jesus refused to intervene, but then he relented and asked a servant to bring him large jars filled with water. He turned the water into a wine of higher quality than any served during the wedding. John’s gospel depicts the event as the first sign of Jesus’s glory and his disciples’ belief in him.

After the wedding, Jesus, his mother Mary and his disciples traveled to Jerusalem for Passover. At the temple, they saw moneychangers and merchants selling wares. In a rare display of anger, Jesus overturned the tables and, with a whip made of cords, drove them out, declaring that his Father’s house is not a house for merchants.                                                              

http://www.biography.com/people/jesus-christ-9354382#jesuss-ministry&awesm=~oDNPn11WRqG16j

We see that Mary was more than a mother travelling with her son; she was travelling with Jesus and his disciples. And isn’t it just like a mother to ask her son to help provide the host with wine. You will note that though Jesus had begun his ministry, that this time he and his disciples accompanied his mother to a wedding. This indicates the human side of Jesus, who on more than one occasion honored his mother, by referring to himself as the “son of man” rather than the “son of God”. And not to disparage his Father, Christ honored his Godly side by chasing the money changers from the temple.

But being both the son of Mary and the Son of God did not confuse Jesus with respect to the importance of his ministry, as we see in Luke 11, verses 27-28.

Luke 11:27-28 (ESV) True Blessedness

BLCF: Maryponders

27 As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

Jesus used the woman’s remark to emphasize that God’s blessings do not come by birthright, but by honoring and keeping the word of God. This statement is reinforced by Jesus’ remarks n Matthew 12:46-50.

Matthew 12:46-50 (ESV) Jesus’ Mother and Brothers

BLCF: WealthYoungManAsksJesus

46 While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him.[a] 48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

Footnotes: a. Matthew 12:46 Some manuscripts insert verse 47: Someone told him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak to you”

At first glance, it seems that Jesus disavowed his mother and siblings, indicating that the designation of a mother, brother or sister, in his view should apply only to those who do the will of the Father in heaven.

But you may ask, “Did Mary not demonstrate obedience to God’s will by bearing and raising His Son?” For the answer to this question, let us look at John 19:5-30:

John 19:25-30 (ESV)

BLCF: Jesus_cross

25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

The Death of Jesus

BLCF: Jesus-Picture-On-The-Cross-It-Is-Finished-Crucifixion

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Just before giving up his spirit on the cross, Jesus saw his mother and John, who is referred to as the disciple who he loved. He then told Mary to behold her son, the disciple John. And to the disciple John, he said to behold your mother, Mary. Jesus was not talking about Mary as his birth mother. In accordance with what he had spoken to the people in Matthew 12:46-50, he was acknowledging the faith and discipleship of Mary.  In this regard, Mary was his mother by birth and by Spirit.

We have confirmation of this observation, when we read in the next Scripture verse, that Mary was again with the disciples in the Upper Room, after Jesus Ascended to heaven, obediently praying and awaiting the arrival of the promised Comforter, God’s Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:6-14 (ESV) The Ascension

BLCF: ascension-of-Jesus

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas

BLCF: Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.[c]

Footnotes: a. Acts 1:4 Or eating b. Acts 1:5 Or in c. Acts 1:14 Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in God’s family, the church

Mary was special, not only because God had chosen her to give birth, and to raise His only Son; unlike most woman of the day, Mary choose not to stay at home and maintain a household. We see Mary as a loving, caring parent and as a disciple of faith and obedience, to the Father in heaven.

The Scripture’s account of Mary’s journeys with Jesus and the disciples indicate how she was involved with the first miracle where Jesus turned water to wine and her presence at Jesus’ cleansing of the temple of the merchants and money changers. Mary continued to follow Jesus and demonstrated both her love for her son and obedience to her God. Mary understood that she had been favored by God to be the mother of God’s Son, Jesus, and was present at many of the important events in the life and ministry of her son.

Mary was present at his birth, his death; witness to his resurrection; and present in the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost when God’s Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and believers that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ, the true Son of God. To Jesus, Mary was his mother, not just because she gave birth to him, but as an obedient woman of faith who heard God’s word and kept it. Mary is an example to Christians, both as a loving parent and follower of God’s word, by taking care of Jesus, the son of man, who was also the Son of God.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #107: Gentle Mary Laid Her Child 

 Benediction – (Galatians 1:3-5):

 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

BLCF: Mary_at_Pentecostpentecost

BLCF Cafe Fundraiser Wednesday May 25 at 6:00 at BLCF.

 BLCF Cafe Info Brochure 

Note: 100% of donations go directly to feeding upwards of 150 homeless and marginalized men, women and children at the BLCF Cafe Community Dinner. BLCF Cafe receives no government or corporate sponsorship. Come and support a worthy cause in the heart of Toronto.

BLCF: cocw-fundraiser

BLCF: FUNdraising-3

BLCF: CupOfColdwater

BLCF: Feed the Homeless

BLCF: Terry Sywanyk

BLCF Cafe Info Brochure-page-001

BLCF: Fundraising-perfectfundraiser

BLCF Cafe Red & Blue

 BLCF: Feed the Homeless

Led by the Spirit to a Victory of Faith: Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch

BLCF: Led by the Spirit1

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Led by the Spirit to a Victory of Faith: Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch’

© May 1, 2016, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin May 1, 2016

BLCF: Enabled by the Spirit

 

Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #612 (The Lamb of God – from Isaiah 53); Prayer                                                                                                   

Opening Hymn #237: What Can Wash Away My Sin?; Choruses                                

Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers                         

 Scriptures: Matthew 19:8-12; Acts 8:26-40; Isaiah 53:7-8 

led_by_the_Spirit                                      

 

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to our Sunday Morning Praise and Worship Service at BLCF Church for May 1, also known as May Day, Communion Sunday and Easter Sunday for members of the Orthodox Christian Church, which bases its Easter date on the Julian calendar, not the Gregorian calendar.

Today’s lesson is primarily focused on the account of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch found in Acts 8:26-40 (ESV):

Acts 8:26-40 (ESV) Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch

BLCF: Acts_8_26-40

26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south[a] to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. 27 And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:

“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter
and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he opens not his mouth.
33 In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.”

BLCF: Ethiopian_Eunuch_Baptism

 

34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”[b] 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

Footnotes: a. Acts 8:26 Or go at about noon b. Acts 8:36 Some manuscripts add all or most of verse 37: And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

The above account, of the encounter between Philip and a eunuch in the remote desert, describes how the Apostle is first directed by an angel of God, on a trek on the road running south Jerusalem towards Gaza.

BLCF: Meroe-Africa

 

It is on this road that the Spirit of God directs Philip to approach a chariot carrying an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet, Isaiah. Philip, directed by the Spirit, asks the eunuch whether he understands the Scripture which he is reading.

 

BLCF: The_Journeys_Of_Philip

This affords the eunuch the opportunity to invite Philip to join him in order to understand the Scripture, particularly Isaiah 53:7-8:

Isaiah 53:7-8 (ESV)

BLCF: Icon_Philip

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?

It is in regard to this passage of Scripture that the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?”  Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.

Philip helps the eunuch is to understand that Isaiah 53:7-8 indicates that Christ’s sacrifice was made on behalf of all people, who are oppressed and judged for their transgressions or sins. No doubt, the eunuch was given limited access to the temple, as a eunuch would be considered “blemished’, under the criteria of holiness that the Lord gave Moses in Leviticus 21:16-24:

Leviticus 21:16-24 (ESV) Holiness and the Priests

BLCF: WhatDefilesYou

16 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 17 “Speak to Aaron, saying, None of your offspring throughout their generations who has a blemish may approach to offer the bread of his God. 18 For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, 19 or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand, 20 or a hunchback or a dwarf or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles. 21 No man of the offspring of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer the Lord’s food offerings; since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God. 22 He may eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy things, 23 but he shall not go through the veil or approach the altar, because he has a blemish, that he may not profane my sanctuaries, for I am the Lord who sanctifies them.” 24 So Moses spoke to Aaron and to his sons and to all the people of Israel.

The Temple was partitioned into four courts, beginning with the Court of the Priests; then the Court of Israel; followed by the Court of the Women, and finally by the Court of the Gentiles. But a eunuch was viewed to have a physical blemish that would prohibit him from entering the temple or Assembly of God:

Deuteronomy 23:1 (ESV) Those Excluded from the Assembly

BLCF: accessibility-access-denied

23 “No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord.

Because a eunuch was considered to bear a physical defect or blemish, he would be lucky if he were permitted to enter the Court of the Gentiles, a court most removed from the Holy altar containing the Ark of the Covenant, where the presence of God was considered to reside.

BLCF: four_courts_of_the_temple

In addition to being a blemish, the eunuch was also considered a foreigner. But Isaiah indicates that the Lord offers a path to salvation to foreigners, as we see in Isaiah 56:1-5:

 

Isaiah 56:1-5 (ESV) Salvation for Foreigners

BLCF: God qualifies the called

56 Thus says the Lord:
“Keep justice, and do righteousness,
for soon my salvation will come,
and my righteousness be revealed.
Blessed is the man who does this,
and the son of man who holds it fast,
who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it,
and keeps his hand from doing any evil.”

Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say,
“The Lord will surely separate me from his people”;
and let not the eunuch say,
“Behold, I am a dry tree.”
For thus says the Lord:
“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose the things that please me
and hold fast my covenant,
I will give in my house and within my walls
a monument and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that shall not be cut off.

But the Lord did instruct his people to offer compassion to the afflicted, such as the deaf or blind:

Leviticus 19:13-14 (ESV)

BLCF: Access for disabled

13 “You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning. 14 You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.

But there is a huge difference between have compassion and pity for the disabled, whose afflictions were regarded as a punishment for sin, and being totally forgiven of their transgressions.

By the grace offered by the New Covenant, through the sacrifice of Jesus, the judgment for any blemish or sin is removed. The believer is made both whole and holy in the eyes of God to become an Ark of the Holy Spirit, by way of God’s New Covenant.

The eunuch is sanctified by faith in Christ and asks Philip to be baptized in a stream nearby. At one time, only a eunuch, who is impotent, would be allowed to approach a married woman without being judged guilty of the sin of adultery:

Matthew 19:8-12 (ESV)

BLCF: disability

He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”[a]

10 The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

Footnotes: a. Matthew 19:9 Some manuscripts add and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery; other manuscripts except for sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery

BLCF: Covenant-of-Grace-chart

As a final reflection, under the Old Law, a eunuch would be barred from entering the temple and drawing close to God because of the blemish of his physical condition. Any priest who suffered injury and thus became physically blemished could no longer perform the rites of a priest and was subject of charity in order to be fed. He could no longer approach the Ark of the Covenant and would be removed from the presence of God because of his affliction.

In the Acts 8 account of the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch is significant in so many ways. We see that Philip, an apostle/messenger of Christ’s Gospel, is sent out by an angel of God on a missionary journey and then directed by God’s Holy Spirit to minister to an Ethiopian eunuch, who is converted, Christian.

In contrast to other accounts of conversions of blind, paralytics and others who are considered by Jews as blemished,  are first healed of their respective infirmity or blemish in order to enter the temple and worship as a member of the assembly. The eunuch is baptized and received as part of the body of Christ and his blemish is unchanged. Through Christ, he is unblemished in God’s eyes.

We see that being a eunuch with physical deficiencies is no more an impediment to being saved and joining the body of Christ, than are the scars or stripes Jesus bore for our sins an impediment for the Lord to be the head of his church. Through Christ, there is no physical impediment to salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

BLCF: Wheelchair-cross_Image

The Ethiopian eunuch is the first foreigner to become a convert of Christ and the first black person to covert to the Way of the Lord. In spite of being a student of the Scriptures, who had just returned from worshiping at the Temple, the eunuch’s physical blemish would likely have been allowed by the Temple Priests to worship in the Court of Gentiles, and this conversion is significant as it is the first recorded Christian conversion of a Gentile.

Christ suffered physical affliction on the cross to remove the restrictions and judgements under the Old Covenant and to permit access to God’s Presence, in the form of the Holy Spirit, under a New Covenant through Christ.

BLCF: Jesus_would_be_banned_from_the_templs_due_to_his_stripes

 

Come to think of it, under the Old Covenant rules, the Resurrected Christ would not be permitted access to the Temple because the wounds in Jesus’ hands, feet and sides would be considered unacceptable defects or blemishes. Under the Old Covenant, the blemishes borne by the Son of God would create the paradox that Christ would neither be allowed to pass through the veil at the Priest’s Temple Court to access Holy of Holies nor allowed to ascend to sit at the side of the Father in Heaven.

 

1_temple_4_courts

But it is because Christ took upon himself to bear the marks or stripes of our sins under the New Covenant, any blemish or defect can no longer be a barrier to the sanctification of the believer. Faith in Christ’s sacrifice guarantees our access to the presence of God, which is the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray…

BLCF: Communion_Sunday

Communion – (Matthew 26:26-29) Institution of the Lord’s Supper: 

26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the[a] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”                                                                                                                                

Footnotes: a. Matthew 26:28 Some manuscripts insert new

Closing Hymn #484: It Only Takes a Spark

Benediction – (Philippians 4:23): The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. – Amen

BLCF: baptised in one Spirit