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Sunday: Truth in Symbols — 16 Comments

  1. The two goats on Atonement Day, since I was converted on the night He saved me, I was bothered by my past animist priesthood sins and secret society priesthood sins as well I searched from Methodist and studied with them to AOG, LDS, JW than finally the SDA Tent meetings in 1991 January 30th in which after two weeks of attendance I heard of the Sanctuary and the Day of Atonement, then and there I told myself now this the Jesus that I was looking for who would not put me to shame in front of my loved ones and friends during judgment day for it dawned in my mind the beauty of God's Judgment favor for His saints:
    1). Jesus represents me in the secret chambers of the Heavenly Sanctuary without putting me to shame as my records are read out in front of the angelic hosts of heaven.
    2). Jesus not only is my atoning sacrifice but also be the Judge and so Daniel 7 is a beauty for it states that God vindicates the Saints during judgment and what a peaceful and good news that Jesus is the Judge (John 5:21-28) and who can stand against us when Jesus is for us.
    3). The second goat carries all the guilt, shame, penalty of sin which is Death in the end, and what an Eternal Gospel is the Judgment doctrine and so the 3 Angels message to me is the Eternal Gospel of Justification by Faith in verity.
    I love Jesus and Judgment for it is for me and not against me, it vindicates me instead of condemning me, it liberates me as innocent for Jesus life, obedience, death, blood and resurrection has given me assurance of Eternity (Romans 5).So I love the Day of Atonement Ritual.

    • You wrote, "Judgment for it is for me and not against me, it vindicates me instead of condemning me, it liberates me as innocent for Jesus life, obedience, death, blood and resurrection has given me assurance of Eternity."

      The ancient Hebrews looked forward to the last judgement as a time of vindication, just as you have described it. Somehow Christians lost that understanding, but it is our privilege to tell the world the Good News of the Judgment - that it liberates sinners and vindicates them on the basis of the life and death of Jesus Christ!

      The Three Angels' Messages are Good News!!

  2. When the Israelites in the wilderness were punished for their murmuring and evil speaking against Jehovah and Moses, his ordained servant (Numbers 21:4-9), they had to look at the symbol assigned by the Lord in order to be healed or saved. Life or death hung on a particular pole. The option of an alternative bathed with prayer and attended by fasting was not available to those bitten.

    Before that the Creator made clear the importance He placed on symbols in the experience of the first two brothers. The Bible stated that God respected both Abel and his offering, while He had no regard for Cain and his offering (Genesis 4:3-6). The Lord’s relationship with each was in part determined by the symbol they attached themselves to in spite of previous instruction.

    Treating lightly the symbols, institutions, and order established by the Creator does affect the relationship with the Lord. To make one’s own idea a substitute for God’s is to open the door to sin (Genesis 4:7). God respects those who respect Him. Worshipping in ignorance may gain some acceptance, but there is special blessing associated with that which God sets aside and the order He prescribes (Genesis 2:3).

    Christians are not at liberty to decide they have had enough or already got the point and so throw out Biblical patterns and introduce something new and different. Modern alternatives though attractive to rights advocates and ‘progressive’ thinkers cannot replace God’s systems, which are full of meaning. That which the Creator establishes remains in force until He decides it expires.

    The way of the righteous is the way of submission (James 4:7).

    • The feasts and God's appointed time, go hand in hand with the sanctuary service. The correct understanding of God's feasts shines great light on the other! We need to study God's feasts so that we truly understand His Atoning sacrifice. Lev 23:2-4

      • While it is true that the feasts and sanctuary service were related, one needs to also remember that they were the "Internet of their culture." They were important in transmitting information and values from one generation to the next. I find it useful to consider what they meant to the Israelites, and how it relates to me now. However, I am seeing a movement among some Seventh-day Adventists to reinstate the symbolism of feasts. That sounds to me a bit like making the symbols more important than what they represent.

        I enjoy taking photographs of birds and quite a few people appreciate looking at my photos because they show moments of bird behaviour. At the same time I understand that the photos only show moments and are not a substitute for going out and observing bird behaviour first hand.

        Likewise a fixation of the pictures provided by the symbolism of Israelite religion has the potential to shade us from the full richness of Christianity. Looking at their picture should not lock us into the picture but encourage us to grow and extend our Christian experience to others.

  3. Serpent represent sin so a brass serpent raised by mosses represented Christ who was to take my sin and yours.

    • It is unfortunate when symbolism "shifts" from good uses to evil uses. This is exactly what happened with the Brass Serpent.

      When that Brass Serpent began to be seen as a magical object, King Hezekiah had no hesitation in breaking it to pieces, calling it Nehushtan, meaning, “a piece of brass”. (2Kings 18:4).

      A symbol of salvation was turned into an idol, and at that point the symbol needed to be removed.

  4. Indeed, the Biblical symbolism represents a deeper spiritual truth that couldn't easily understood in a plain language.In respect to this,I have a problem in the following lines:
    1.what's the validity of the Antitype in the presence of the Type?
    2.what's the danger of defying n spiritualising the symbol as done by some faiths?

    • We need to avoid the notion that symbolism is more important that what it represents. Often symbols are used to represent key ideas.

      For example: The ordinance of humility (foot-washing) is a symbolic action representing our need to act humbly. But foot-washing itself can be done mechanically without reflecting the action of humility that needs to be seated in our hearts. If we go away from the symbolic foot-washing on Sabbath, and act arrogantly and selfishly towards others on Wednesday, then the only thing that the foot-washing has done is wash the dirt off your feet.

      Christianity has never been about knowledge accumulation; it is a life experience; translating fundamental principles into living salvation.

      • Often it seems that the foot-washing does not even wash dirt off the feet... it is almost never offered as a heart-felt service, for most people it is only ever a symbol. But I vividly remember the first time I took part in a foot-washing service, and the elderly gentleman that took me under his "wing", had with him [as his custom was,] a bar of soap... and he actually washed my feet ! I could not speak for some time afterwards. But oh what a lasting impression that man's action made on me ! It seemed that for him it was an opportunity to offer genuine a service.

  5. Cain felt justified in giving God his "best" though God asked for something else. How easy it is for us to deceive ourselves in thinking that we can compromise with God's standards and claim his blessings!

    How is Cain's attitude translated today?

    Whenever we choose to substitute God's way with ours, we don't have to exercise faith and patience, we act quickly on what seems logical.

    Usually God's ways are puzzling to us because we must exercise faith in our walk with him. This is an unalterable principle as stated by the prophet, "Hath the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to harken than the fat of rams (1 Samuel 15:22).

    • Unfortunately, we often have an exaggerated, but somewhat selfish opinion of our own view of God, and it is all to easy to convince ourselves that we are doing God's will. The easiest person to lie to is ourselves, and many a Christian, convinced that they are doing God's will, have done considerable harm by acting under that conviction.

      The Jews in Christ's time were convinced that they were right and had interpreted scripture correctly. It is easy for us to point the finger at them now with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight vision and say how wrong they were. But we need to remember that we are in danger of doing the same thing ourselves. Some of the issues that we Seventh-day Adventists face today could be the result of selfish opinions about our ability to interpret God's will correctly. Self-pride is they most persistent of sins and we will only overcome that when we choose to follow the humility of Christ.

  6. While in the wilderness, all that the Israelites needed to sustain them was an excellent food to keep the moving on. Indeed God gave them manna- angels' food according to psalms. ("He fed them with angels' food"(Psalms 78:25). And yet the people chose to complain instead of giving thanks. Their prayer ought to have been; "Oh God you're so good. You haven't failed us. The manna is there every morning. Lord, you've supplied us all the way. You have sustained us Lord. You've been so good to us." But they really complained."Oh this stuff, I'm sick of it. Manna, manna, yuck." And were are also behave that way.

    In our daily life, there are people that are always looking on the good side and there are people that are always looking on the bad side of life; people who are chronically complaining, people who are chronically giving thanks. It becomes a pattern of a person's life. Now it is God's will that your pattern be that of thanksgiving. "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God concerning you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). And God wants you to live a thankful life; God wants you to appreciate what he has done for you.

    So God let there be something that the people can do instead of concentrating on complaints all the time. In other words, you can live or die; it's your choice. Living is very simple: all you have to do is look at this snake, this brass serpent on this pole and you'll be healed, you'll live. Dying is very simple too; all you have to do is not look and you die.

    And so, Moses made this brass serpent, put it on the pole and it came to pass that as the people were bitten by these snakes, if they would look upon this brass serpent, they would be healed; they would live.
    But how can a serpent have a similarity to Jesus? Serpents are often used as pictures of evil in the Bible (Genesis 3:1-5; Revelation 12:9). However, bronze is a metal associated with judgment in the Bible, because bronze must be made by passing through the "fires" of judgment.
    This was an unusual direction from God and miracle resulting. There is no immediate logical connection between merely looking at a serpent on a pole and living; or refusing to look and dying. But God commanded that such a "foolish" thing be used to bring salvation to Israel. One may argue on how a serpent can have a similarity to Jesus? Serpents are often used as pictures of evil in the Bible (Genesis 3:1-5; Revelation 12:9). However, bronze is a metal associated with judgment in the Bible, because bronze must be made by passing through the "fires" of judgment.
    Here God gave an interesting foreshadowing of the cross of Jesus Christ. The serpent is always a symbol for sin because Satan came in the form of a serpent in the Garden of Eden. Brass is always a symbol of judgment. They confessed "we have sinned." The brass serpent on the pole was a symbol that your sin has been judged. "Now, if you'll just look at the brass serpent, the place where your sin was judged, you'll be healed."

    But how can a serpent have a similarity to Jesus? Serpents are often used as pictures of evil in the Bible (Genesis 3:1-5; Revelation 12:9). However, bronze is a metal associated with judgment in the Bible, because bronze must be made by passing through the "fires" of judgment.

    What God wants all of us to do is to look at Jesus Christ in faith, in trust, believing in Him. Salvation is very simple.

  7. The two offerings of Cain and Abel reveal the two opposing actions of unbelief and faith. One rejects and one accepts. The Sovereign Creator has given His creatures a choice to exercise freely, and in these offerings we see these two options acted out in response to God's offer of new Life in the Propitiation.

    The serpent on the pole reveals the same principles and their outcomes. The power was in faith or unbelief, not the brass. Not many would think of unbelief yielding a power, but it does. It has the power to destroy what the Creator has made to exist forever as Lucifer, and all who mimic his unbelief will be destroyed at last through unbelief.

  8. The following thought from Mrs. White sheds some light on Cain's offering. Part of it shines on what, for me, was an unexpected feature.

    "Abel was determined to worship God according to the direction God had given. This displeased Cain. He thought that his own plans were best, and that the Lord would come to his terms. Cain in his offering did not acknowledge his dependence on Christ. [Thus far the thoughts are commonly understood, but now another aspect is touched on.] He thought that his father Adam had been treated harshly in being expelled from Eden. The idea of keeping that sin ever before the mind, and offering the blood of the slain lamb as a confession of entire dependence upon a Power outside of himself, was torture to the high spirit of Cain." (14MR p.115)

    Cain appears to have felt that to offer a Lamb was to cast dishonor upon his father. He was willing to bring the best of his own labors as an offering, but "the idea of keeping that sin" -- his father's sin -- continually before the mind, was torture to his "high spirit".

    So a question - Did Cain not see sufficient reason (sinfulness) in himself to require the life of a Substitute? For him, that slain Lamb seemed to point, not to his own weakness, but to his father's failure.


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