Tidings for Tuesday

February 13th, 2018

And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtle dove for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest. Leviticus 12:6

Gruesome stories are told in many parts of the world of the widespread abandonment of baby girls by families that wanted baby boys. Those stories include leaving the babies in the wild to be eaten by wild animals, tossing the babies in the garbage, and, in our own time, the aborting of female fetuses from the womb. In China, for example, because of the government’s barbaric law that limits families to having one child, girl babies are given up for adoption at birth, and China’s orphanages are overflowing with unwanted girls. Much of the world – especially the Mohammedan world – treats girls and women as of much less valuable than boys and men. Leviticus 12 might almost seem to show the Israelites were to move in that direction, until you read today’s text and see that boys and girls required the same sacrifices. Contrary to popular opinion, God does not have a gender bias.

Chapter 12 shows us that the period of purifying for a woman was twice as long if she delivered a girl than if she delivered a boy. Also, there was no rite similar to circumcision when it came to the girls. But those were minor issues compared to the sacrifices that were required for babies. Our text says the sacrifices were identical. And, if God sees the value of children to be the same, so should we. It is easy to elevate the role of men and boys in our Assemblies to be somehow more important than that of women and girls. Maybe that’s because the males in our Assemblies are give the vocal and public parts. But we need to be careful not to fall into the trap of viewing the vocal and public parts as more important. Like God, we should not be a respecter of persons in this matter.

Although sisters are prohibited by Scripture from participating audibly in Assembly teaching, there is no rule that says those same sisters are any less Bible scholars than the men. Sisters are also often much greater prayer warriors than are men. They are also capable of dispensing wise and valuable advice to young Christians. It is a wise young Christian who spends frequent time discussing spiritual things with the older sisters in the Assembly. As the showpiece rather than the mouthpiece of the Assembly, the sister plays a role every bit as valuable as that of the brothers.

It required the blood of God’s only begotten Son to cleanse the sins of every brother and sister; God views them of equal value. So should we. – Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

February 12th, 2018

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

A young man told his girlfriend, ‘If you really loved me, you would give everything you have to me.’ A woman told her husband, ‘If you really loved me, you would take me for a Carribbean cruise.’ We hear those expressions from people who use love like a manipulative claw to demand and extract from those around them. This term – if you really loved me, you would… – is actually a red flag that should alert the hearer to run and hide. People who make use of that expression are cruel and dangerous and know nothing about love. How absolutely different is our God, whose love as described in today’s classic text is unreserved, unlimited, unmerited, and unconditional.

How pathetic human love looks beside that of our God! Even a mother’s love for her baby or a father’s love for his family fade into insignificance when compared to that of our heavenly Father. How can we doubt His great love when we read of its greatest act, the giving of His Son? None of us could imagine giving a son to save good people, let alone despisers and rejectors. Our text speaks of God so loving the world. For a word of only two letters, that word ‘so’ is large enough to span the distance between Heaven and earth, is powerful enough to cleanse and save the worst of sinners, is complete enough to leave no person on this earth without an opportunity to obtain God’s salvation, is real enough to touch our hearts and bring us into the royal household of God. The word ‘so’ is an adverb, meaning that it modifies a verb. In the case of John 3:16, the word ‘so’ takes the love of God in all its purity, power, and provision, and expresses that love as infinite. We have nothing today if not for the love of God. We have everything today because of the love of God.

Did you memorize this verse in Sunday School? Most of us did. Somehow, I think this verse will be framed and hung on the walls of Heaven, to forever remind us of its majestic truth. Because, it will take eternity to measure the magnitude of the love that our Father has displayed to us in the giving of His Son. – Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

February 11th, 2018

Whatsoever parteth the hoof and is cloven-footed, and cheweth the cud among the beasts, that shall ye eat. Leviticus 11:3

As a little boy, I loved to play in the cow pasture, and was always fascinated to watch the cattle as they relaxed after a period of grazing. They would lie quietly, paying little attention to anything, and steadily chew their cuds. The steady, rhythmic movement of their jaws seemed to go on forever, with a pause every minute or so to swallow and to burp up a fresh cud. Chewing the cud sounds like a similar process to reading our Bible effectively, doesn’t it? But why should the Old Testament dietary laws specify cud-chewing animals as the only quadrupeds suitable for food? I believe there is a good lesson there.

Why do cows – and other ruminants such as sheep, goats, and deer – chew the cud? These animals have several stomachs (cows have four) that are involved in digesting their food. It’s a complicated process that we don’t need to go into, but all that extra processing results in the animal negating any harmful effects from the grass or weeds that the cow ate. This means that the cow gets to digest only food that is good for it. As a result, meat from cows is not contaminated with anything harmful, even if the cow grazes on harmful weeds or grasses. Because of that cud, we can safely eat beef, or venison, or lamb. There is also spiritual food that is always safe to enjoy. As Christians, we need to be careful about what we feed on, to avoid contamination. There is plenty of good material for us to feed our souls on.

One source of food that is always appropriate and good is the Bible. Of course, we need to make sure we avoid versions that are less reliable, but as long as we compare versions with each other, that shouldn’t be a problem. The simplest approach here is to stick with the King James (or read the Greek and Hebrew if you know them). We can trust many of the commentaries that are available, but not all. Always stay with those that you know and trust, or that godly brothers and sisters recommend. Young Christians can get into trouble by dabbling in material that is written by people who don’t know or teach the truth. That is why we should avoid going outside the teaching of God’s Assembly. There are some excellent non-Assembly preachers out there, but they are all off-track in some areas, so why not stick with ministry from Assembly preachers? Weekly ministry and Bible readings in our Assembly are the source of much of what we learn. We need to base our spiritual appetite on these things.

We have an abundance of spiritual food that we know is not contaminated. Let us trust what God has given to us to nourish our souls. – Jim MacIntosh

Sermon for Saturday

February 10th, 2018

And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean. Leviticus 10:10

Yet more nauseating news accounts from around the world tell of campaigns in more places to legalize same-sex marriages. Promoters of such abominable behaviour fly in the face of Scripture that identifies marriage as the union between a man and a woman. This means that, before God, same-sex marriages have no more legitimacy than a marriage between a man and his wheelbarrow. And yet, those who would promote and glorify the homosexual lifestyle declare that anyone who disagrees with them are the evil ones. In our day, this is one of the most blatant cases of those who would not make a difference between the holy and unholy, and between the clean and unclean. However, our text today does not deal with lifestyles, but with the correct attitude when it comes to the worship of God. This is an admonition that we all need to heed.

Some denominations equate worship with the playing of music and/or singing of songs that purport to exalt God. Other places define as worship the delivery of a sermon, the taking of an offering, and any of a number of activities or practices. In the example in Leviticus 10, two men offered strange fire with incense to God and were immediately smitten dead. The rules were simple, yet Nadab and Abihu broke those rules and suffered the consequences. We often wonder why God does not smite those today who make a mockery of worship by mingling the holy with the unholy.

The worship of the Lord’s people does not include physical incense as in the tabernacle. Instead, we offer the incense of praise to our Lord. Based on the example of Leviticus 10, we need to be careful that we do not offer strange fire, that we do not mingle the holy things of God with the profane things of ourselves. We dare not drag into our worship the foolish ideas of our own creation, the degrading practices of the world, the silly notions of those who would strive to attract bigger crowds, or the pathetic attempts at appealing to our emotions at the expense of maintaining the truth. The Word of God is always true, and if we adhere to that truth, we will be able to eliminate from our worship all that is false.

Our Lord desires that we do not insult Him by mixing the things of the flesh with those things concerning Himself. We don’t need to be popular with the world but we do need to be faithful to our Lord. – Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

February 9th, 2018

And there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat, which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces. Leviticus 9:24

Have you ever had a young Christian ask you how to tell what God wants them to do with their life? Have you ever had an unbeliever ask you for proof that the Bible is the Word of God, or for proof that God exists? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could have an instant demonstration of the presence and power of God? For example, something like what occurred in our text today, when the glory of the Lord was manifested in fire that burst forth and consumed the offering that was on the altar in the tabernacle. No wonder the people shouted and fell on their faces. This was a miraculous demonstration of the reality and power of God. Why don’t we have such a demonstration today?

2 Corinthians 5:7 tells us that we walk by faith, not by sight. The Israelite in the Old Testament was able to see the furnishings in the tabernacle, to see the offerings slain and placed on the altar, to see the priests carry out their functions regarding all those offerings and ordinances, and, as in the case of our text, to actually see fire from God consume those offerings. You and I don’t have those things. We don’t have any certified portrait or movie showing us the events surrounding the crucifixion of Christ. We don’t have any miraculous event that displays the presence and power of God, although the charismatics claim to have such. No, we who are walking by faith have something far better than the shadows of the Old Testament. We have the Word of God. And we have the power of faith.

Fire from God was a wonderful demonstration, but not everybody got to see it; only those who were present at the time could actually confirm that it happened. People who were unable to attend, people who came the next day, people who came ten, 25, or 100 years later would have no experience or proof. But every Christian has a Bible. Every Christian has the Holy Spirit witnessing within us. We don’t need to attend a great event with a divine demonstration of power. We can simply rest in faith on the account of Scripture concerning the love of God Who gave His only begotten Son. We can open our hearts to the glorious truths found in the Word of God, and be satisfied. Faith demonstrates to us a greater sacrifice and provision than the burnt offering of Leviticus.

Do we wish for a greater demonstration of God’s existence and power? Why can we not be content with the words of the Lord Jesus, I am the good Shepherd? – Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

February 8th, 2018

And Moses said unto the congregation, This is the thing which the Lord commanded to be done. Leviticus 8:5

The little one-room school I attended in West New Annan had a monthly Junior Red Cross meeting. For a half hour or more on a Thursday afternoon, we would work ourselves though a set of meeting procedures. Each of us would take turns chairing the meeting and performing other tasks. I remember embarrassing myself on one occasion by jumping up to conduct a vote before it was time to do so. It is surprising how much we learned about conducting meetings by holding those Red Cross sessions. When we had a question, we would pull out a little book that described the proper procedures to be followed. We were not to deviate from the rules in that little book, or our meetings would be out of order. Just like the Israelites, in their tabernacle ordinances and ceremonies, were not to deviate from what God told them. Just like we are not to deviate from what Scripture tells us concerning the activities of His Assembly.

Moses made it clear to the Israelites that they were to do what God said. It should also be clear to us today that if God has given us instructions, we are to follow them. This is why we do not follow the example of the denominations in appointing or hiring a pastor or minister to conduct meetings and to lead worship. That is why we do not arrange choirs and special music, or bring in a musical instrument to enhance our singing. That is why we eat the Lord’s Supper every week, instead of the monthly or quarterly (or annual) practice of the denominations. We have instructions from the Word of God that we are to follow. If we don’t follow those instructions, the meetings are out of order.

Many practices that we follow are not spelled out specifically in Scripture. However, the concepts behind them are Scripturally sound. Take, for example, the way in which seating is arranged for the Lord’s Supper. Nothing in the Bible spells out that we are to be in a circle. And at times such as conferences, this arrangement is impossible. However, When we consider the Scriptural reminder that the Lord Jesus is in our midst, a circle arrangement makes perfect sense. Many of the practices that we follow that are not specifically spelled out in the Book have been thought out by godly men who came before us, considering Scripture, common sense, and the admonition that all things are to be done decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40). They did not want the gatherings of the Lord’s people to be out of order.

If we know how the Lord wants us to conduct ourselves in His presence, we must do it. How sad if our meetings should be conducted out of order. – Jim MacIntosh

Word for Wednesday

February 7th, 2018

And the priest that offereth any man’s burnt offering, even the priest shall have to himself the skin of the burnt offering which he hath offered. Leviticus 7:8

One of my favourite coats is an old leather jacket that has gracefully aged along with me. There is much comfort in that old jacket, not only in the way in which it fits so well but in the way in which it keeps me warm when the cold winds blow. I appreciate the way in which a leather garment such as my old coat protects its wearer so well. Leather has always been valued for its protective qualities. For example, motorcyclists wear leather to protect themselves from ‘road rash’. And if we go far enough back in time, it was a leather coat that God gave to Adam and his wife when He had to thrust them out of Eden. Those coats of skins were from sacrifices that addressed our first parents’ sin covering them from the shame of their sin. But those coats were also needed for the harsh environment outside of Eden. So the skins that the priest received for conducting sacrifices were welcome payment for his work.

Skins that a priest received in the performance of his office could be used for himself or presumably be sold or bartered for other things he needed. They remind us of the benefits we receive as believer-priests in the service of our Lord.

We live in a world full of perils and troubles, and a world ruled by an evil despot determined to ruin our testimonies and rob us of our joy in the Lord. In this harsh environment, we need plenty of protection. Protection is available. The Lord Jesus has promised us He will never leave or forsake us. Scripture reminds us that greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). We have been outfitted with the whole armour of God to enable us to stand against the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:11). We are preserved as we make use of the resources God has given to us as we function in His service.

One of Adam’s great problems after the fall was the shame of his sin. He never forgot that shame and lived for hundreds of years in deep regret. But God provided Adam with a covering to mitigate that shame in the world that was growing around him. He had responsibilities and work to attend to, and God’s provision enabled him to function. Over the years, he would make many more coats of skins, undoubtedly from the sacrifices he would offer to God for his sin. But he probably never disposed of the first coats, the ones that God had given him and Eve. They would serve to remind him of that wonderful provision. Let us often return to our salvation to be reminded of all that God has given to us to protect and comfort us.

What a wonderful God we serve, Who grants to us such great benefits! – Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

February 6th, 2018

The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out. Leviticus 6:13

One year, when the Canada Games were to be held in Newfoundland, part of the preparation for those games included the carrying of the Canada Games torch by runners through each of the other provinces. The idea was that the torch was lit from the Canada Games perpetual flame in Ottawa, and the torch was to carry that fire to the the site of the new Canada Games flame in Newfoundland where it would burn during the duration of the games. I was on hand on the front steps of the main government building in Fredericton when the torch arrived for a brief ceremony there. One runner, a fine young athlete, had carried the torch up the steps to the spot where the ceremony was to be held. Another athlete waited to take the torch from him and carry it on its next stage. As we waited for the officials to gather for the ceremony, I noticed the fire in the torch go out. Surprised, I exclaimed, ‘The torch went out!’ One of the cabinet ministers fumbled in his pocket, brought forth a cigarette lighter, and relit the torch. ‘Happens all the time,’ one of the organizers said, ‘we have to keep relighting it’. So much, I thought, for a perpetual flame! How unlike that is the flame on the altar of God’s sacrifice.

There was a great significance to the perpetual flame on the altar. The burning sacrifice that never went out tells us that the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus is always in effect, and always will be in effect. You and I are never left for a moment without the protection of that sacrifice, which satisfies a holy God in the matter of our sins. Throughout eternity, the value of that sacrifice protects us and assures us of our place in God’s presence. But there is another aspect of the fire never going out that is more solemn and sad.

There is a place where the worm never dies and the fire never goes out (Mark 9:48), and it is called hell fire. This place once struck terror to our souls when we realized it was the place where we as guilty sinners deserved to go. It should strike terror to us today to realize that such a place is where the unsaved all around us are bound. Our loved ones, our neighbours, our work or school companions, the passerby we encounter on the street, are all on their way to an eternal flame of judgment. What is there of our lives and our actions that warns sinners of the coming doom? The furtherance of the Gospel is desperately needed by so many.

Great comfort is found in the reminder of the eternal flame of Christ’s sacrifice. Great responsibility is found in the reminder of the eternal flame of God’s judgment. – Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

February 5th, 2018

And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing. Leviticus 5:5

As a tetotaler, I have never attended, nor felt the need to attend, a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. But I am told that a very important step for those who go to those meetings is to stand up and admit that they are alcoholics. That must take a great deal of courage when it happens for the first time. It also takes a great deal of humility for those people to make such an open and plain statement about a problem that is too big for them to deal with. Alcoholics can rarely be helped until they are willing to make such a confession. Sinners are the same; there was no hope of salvation for us until we are willing to confess that we are hopelessly lost sinners. Our text speaks of the need for confession before a sacrifice can be accepted. And the sacrifice must be one with no sins to confess.

We recall how the Lord Jesus was silent before His accusers. Even after Pilate had Him scourged, there was no confession of sin, and Pilate had to declare that he found this Man without fault. The Jewish rulers could accuse the Lord Jesus before Pilate, but they had no confession to present, because none was forthcoming. Pilate’s sentence of crucifixion was not based on any finding of guilt, or of any confession of guilt, but on political expediency. And yet, when he suffered on the cross, the Lord Jesus was bearing the punishment of sin, whether we have confessed it now, or not.

Most people go to their graves without confessing their sins. Most will admit to mistakes and some wrongdoings, but few will actually understand and declare that God’s holiness unveils their utter depravity in His sight. And yet, it is only those confessions that are made in time that receive the blessing from the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, just as the person in our text who confesses his sin can receive the blessing from the sacrifice on the altar. The time will come when everybody will confess their sin. Everybody who has not confessed in time will do so in eternity. Everyone who has not fallen in repentance on the Lord Jesus will fall on their knees before him for judgment at the Great White Throne. Men and women who make excuses for their sins now, who declare that their abominations are not sins, and who deny that the wages of sin is death will have to admit in that terrible day that they were wrong. They will have to confess their sin and confess that God`s holiness requires punishment. But it will be too late for the value of the sacrifice to be applied. Only in time can God apply the sacrifice to a confessing sinner.

The only difference between us and those who are still in their sins is the confession we have made of that sin. The goodness of God that led us to repentance is yet available to those who still need to confess. – Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

February 4th, 2018

And he shall cleave it with the wings thereof, but shall not divide it asunder, and the priest shall burn it upon the altar, upon the wood that is upon the fire, it is a burnt-sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord. Leviticus 1:17

As you listen on a Lord’s Day, during the Lord’s Supper, as each brother rises in his turn to offer his worship to the Lord, have you ever noticed how very different they are? One brother might dwell at some length on the typology of the Old Testament offerings, another might speak of the various events in the life of our Lord that displayed His submission to the Father’s will, another might describe the sufferings of the cross, and a younger, newly-saved brother might say little more than how much he appreciated that the Lord Jesus was willing to die for his sins. As you listen, you notice that you appreciate one as much as another. That’s good, because the Lord does, too. Our text indicates that, when it comes to worship, the Lord received as much honour from the offering of the turtledoves as He did from the offerings of the bullock and the lamb.

This chapter, which describes the burnt offering, speaks of three levels of offering: the bullock, the lamb, and the turtledove. All required a different degree of cost, a different amount of preparation, and a different set of instructions. The rich man brought the bullock, the average joe brought the lamb, and the poor man brought the turtledove. And yet, at the end of the description of each of these, the same words are used to describe the Lord’s appreciation of it. This tells us that God desires, and expects, from each of us according to what we can afford.

Spiritually speaking, each of us is at a different level of maturity and understanding. We all have different talents and abilities. God knows all about that. And He doesn’t expect us to bring to worship or service what we don’t have, anymore than He would expect a poor Israelite to bring a bullock to the altar. But He does expect us to give of what we have, and use what we have and know, to give to Him what He deserves.

The Israelite who presented his burnt offering received no part of that offering for himself. It was enough to know that his offering sent a sweet savour upward to the Lord. We should also give of our worship and service to God with no motive of expecting God to reward us for it. And yet, we do receive when we render worship and service, far more than we give. Our preparation and participation in worship helps us to grow in our knowledge of Christ and His Word. Our participation in service develops our sense of responsibility, deepens our sense of fellowship with God and His people, and builds us up in our most holy faith.

Remember, God knows what you are to bring to Him today; have you brought it yet? – Jim MacIntosh