Matt. 23:16-21 The altar is greater than the gift
Matt. 5: 21-24 First be reconciled to your brother, and then offer your gift upon the altar
The calendar tells us that it is a new year, a year which reminds us and the world that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh into the world which He made. We can look back and consider how our God has watched over us and has kept us. We can look ahead and know that our salvation and redemption are nearer this year than they were this past year.
The Lord is building up His church and showing Himself faithful, training us to trust Him fully to bring us through to glory at His coming.
God has shown us His way to be at peace with Him and with one another. He had (has) a controversy with Israel and with mankind. Our sins separated us from the LORD our God. What was God to do since it became clear that we were not going to do anything sufficient to get right with Him? The reality is that we blame God for our problems and those in the world at large. God’s altar is the place of sacrifice. In Lev. 17:11 the LORD says that the life of the flesh is in the blood, and that He has given it to us upon the altar to make atonement for our souls. The heart of God our Father came to us in the person of His Son Yeshua, who sacrificed Himself on the cross to make atonement, to make reconciliation, for those who have sinned against Him. Yeshua satisfied God’s righteousness and justice so that the LORD can show grace and mercy and compassion to whomsoever He will. He has reconciled Himself to man. We have been given the ministry of reconciliation in that we are to be peace-makers, telling and showing others how they can be reconciled to God: through repentance and faith in Him through Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin. This is the love of God and the new commandment to love one another as Jesus has loved us: if we know that someone has reason to have something against us, we are to humble ourselves and grant forgiveness based on the righteousness of God. Then we can come to the Lord’s table and supper; then we can offer our gifts and prayers and praise to God. For we have acknowledged that the cross – the altar – of God is greater than any thing which we can offer. It is the faith we have in, and the thankfulness for, the sacrifice of God’s Son that sanctifies us and our gifts, both before God and before our brothers and sisters.
When Jesus came into the world, His whole life was consecrated to God His Father and to His Kingdom. He knew that the spirit in the world was opposed to God. He came to give honor and glory to His Father, whom He knew to be good. Jesus brought light to expose the darkness in men’s souls, even in those who claimed to know and to serve the LORD. Before the Holy One of Israel, many of the religious leaders were exposed as hypocrites, not really sincere in caring about God’s interests, but more concerned for their own honor and privileges. Jesus did not sing their songs or dance to their tunes.
(Mt. 11: 16-19; Is. 22:12-13) The Son of God listened to God’s voice and responded in a manner which showed that He loved His Father more than He wanted to prove that He was a man like others of His day. He seeks the lost sheep of the House of Israel, those who want to be found and go back home.
There is a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance (Ecc. 3:4). What “time” is it this year? Certainly the Lord will give us much to know and enjoy the liberty that we have in Messiah. Yet the Holy Spirit in us groans and mourns over the sin still acting within us, and the spirit in the world which still is separated from and in opposition to the LORD and to His Anointed One – to the sovereignty of God and the truth that Jesus is LORD. The people of this age are getting ready for a big party and celebration for the new millenium. They have forgotten God, and, sadly, so have many who are called by His name. It is written that the joy of the Lord is our strength; if our joy is truly in Jesus, the Holy Spirit will enable us to respond in a worthy way to show that we love our heavenly Father, that we are His children and servants.
Even so, the Lord Jesus says to His disciples that when we see these things beginning to happen, that we are to rejoice, for our redemption is near. As God intervenes in the affairs of man – whether in grace or in judgement – the holy Father in Heaven so loves the world that the reconciliation which Jesus accomplished still abides: the blood of the Lamb still speaks salvation and peace to those who will repent from their unbelief and evil and, instead, believe the love of the truth: God has forgiven sinners and Jesus rose from the dead to justify all who believe that with thanks.
This year the Lord wants to bring forth more fruit from us His people. He wants to give us His song to sing. Jesus has given us His peace. Let us desire to be at peace with one another for His sake. He will make us glad in Him.