The Old Testament - Part 1

Selected highlights from this sermon.

Did you know that we’re part of the Bible’s story? Did you also know that many Christians have never read through the entire Bible? They get to Leviticus and stop.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Breaking down this first verse of the Bible shows us that everything in the universe was created by God and created for His glory. We’ll see time, personality, force, space, and matter. And that’s just verse one!

While Pastor Lutzer takes us on a whirlwind tour through the first half of the Old Testament, we’ll see the seriousness of sin (so serious that we can’t handle it), but most of all, we’ll begin to see how God plans to redeem us through His grace.

Download the two charts that Pastor Lutzer uses throughout this series:

The Drama of Redemption Timeline | The Drama of Redemption End Times Diagram

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The Bible is a very remarkable book. On the one hand it’s rather simple. I mean we know all of the promises and the favorite passages of Scripture and we go back to those again and again. On the other hand, the Bible is very complicated, because the books of the Old Testament (especially the Old Testament) and the New Testament are not in chronological order, so if you begin to read it, it becomes a formidable task to put it all together. It’s something like a puzzle. You have all of the pieces, but if you don’t have the big picture on the box, you don’t know where they fit. You might benefit from it, but how much better if you can see the whole picture—the whole drama of redemption?

There are many reasons why most Christians have never read through the Bible. One reason is they begin (and oftentimes this is done at the beginning of the year though it doesn’t have to start at that time), and they say to themselves, “I’m going to read the Bible through,” and they get through Genesis, and they get through Exodus. Exodus is very difficult because of all of those chapters about the priests and the temple, and then they get to Leviticus, and in Leviticus many a well-intentioned Christian has decided to stop. It’s never going to happen again after this message. I assure you, you’ll never stop in Leviticus again. And so they don’t go on.

Another reason is because if they miss once or they get behind and they’re not reading the Bible for a week, they say, “Well, you know, I have to wait until next year to start again.” Don’t do that. Pick up where you left off. And if you do that, even if you take two or three years to go through the Bible, go through it. Read it all, and the best way to do it is to read five chapters a day, and if you read five chapters a day, on some days when you have to skip, or you forget, or it doesn’t work out, you’re not going to be far behind, because actually four chapters a day would get you through it perfectly fine.

Now the Bible is such a remarkable transforming book. You ought to take notes right now. Grab your pen because I am going to give you three questions you should always ask yourself as you sit down to read the Bible because when you are finished reading it, you should take something from it—something that you can think about all day. And now that you have your pen handy, let me give you the three questions.

Question number one is, does this teach me anything about God? What does it teach me about God? Number two: is there a promise that I must believe? And number three: is there a command that I must obey? What does it teach me about God? Is there a promise I must believe? Is there a command I must obey? And you ought to be able to answer at least one of those questions; hopefully all three after you have had your morning reading.

Now the Bible is going to change you. One day I was struggling with my thought life and I said, “Lord, why do I struggle so much?” and just like that the verse of Scripture came to me from John 15, “Now you are clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his ways? By taking heed thereto according to thy Word,” and it dawned on me I wasn’t in the Word, because the Word cleanses. The Word keeps us. The Word guides us.

This is what the Bible says about itself, and how true it is: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. The commandment of the Lord is pure and righteous altogether, more to be desired than gold, yea than much fine gold (even at $1,100 an ounce), sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is thy servant warned and in keeping them there is great reward.”

You are going to be changed. You are going to be transformed. Unless you are a child, let’s just all agree that we’re going to read our Bible from cover to cover. How many of you say, “Yes, we are agreed?” Could I see your hands, please? All right, and the rest of you, may you not sleep well until you agree (laughter).

Now what I am going to do in the next two messages is to cover the entire Old Testament. Today we’re going to look at more than a thousand years of interesting history—not boring history but interesting history—and in order for us to do it, and in order for us to have all the books of the Bible put together for us, you have a chart today in your bulletin, and I want you to take it out at this time. The pastoral staff lovingly prepared this chart. It is a very special chart. It has been worked on for hours, and this chart will enable you in your reading to know where the various books fit. Please don’t leave it in your bulletin. Put it in your Bible and bring it for the next three Sundays after this Sunday, because we’re going to spend two Sundays on the Old Testament and two on the New Testament. In my last sermon on the New Testament in thirty minutes I am going to take you entirely through the book of Revelation. In thirty minutes we’re going to dissect it, put it in its context, and you will be blessed.

So today we begin the Old Testament. We begin with the book of Genesis. Now many of you may not have realized that the book of Job is one of the oldest books of the Bible and that’s why on your chart you’ll notice it is concurrent with Genesis. The way in which to read this chart is to understand that there are books that carry the Bible storyline forward, and then there are lots of supporting books. They support the storyline, and it’s all worked out for you on this chart.

So let’s begin with the book of Genesis. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” In those ten words the whole basis of science is evident. “In the beginning”—time. “God”—personality. “Created”—His force. “The heavens”—refer to space. “And the earth”—matter. Everything is there, and what does it tell us about God? It tells us that He is self-existent. It tells us that He is sovereign. He created out of nothing. It also tells us that everything is created by God and is going to be for His glory, and we are going to see that we are part of the Bible story—the bigger story of the glory of God and His purposes.

The other day someone asked me who created the devil. The answer is God. Now, he wasn’t the devil when God created him. He was an angel who fell and became the devil, but there is nothing that exists that doesn’t exist under God’s sovereign control. And it’s not about you, and it’s not about me. It’s about Him, but thankfully, because of His grace, we get into the picture.

So first of all you have creation. Then you have the fall in Genesis 3, and what a tragedy that is. If you don’t understand the fall of man into sin, you’re going to be off base as you read the rest of the Bible. God takes sin seriously, and because it is against Him, He has been grievously offended.

Steve Mason, one of our pastors, uses this illustration: If you throw a snowball at your brother, you probably won’t be arrested; but if you throw a snowball at the President of the United States, you’re in trouble. The sin of the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve opted for independence, is grievous, and as a result, it was as if they hit a string of dominos. Think of all of the things that happened because they decided self-determination. And, you see, the rest of the story of history and of psychology is basically mankind finding some way to minimize and manage the grievousness of his sin, and sin is going to be the issue that God is going to deal with in the rest of the Bible, so that we can be reconciled to a holy God. What a story it is! That’s why I’m so glad you are listening.

Now, I am going to ask you to turn to only one verse of Scripture, and that is Genesis 3:15. In Genesis 3:15 God says this to the serpent. You remember Satan came to Adam and Eve in the guise of a serpent. God says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed (offspring) and her seed (offspring); and he shall crush (bruise) you on the head, and you shall nip (bruise) his heel.” What God is saying there is that a redeemer is going to come through the seed of a woman who is going to crush the serpent’s head, and it was going to be the means of our reconciliation. And now the rest of the Bible storyline is going to be the outworking of how all that is going to happen in history.

So now what we have is creation. We have the fall, which is huge, and then comes the flood, because God said, “I will not endlessly strive with man in his wickedness.” Man left to himself will perform every imaginable kind of evil, and that’s what the Bible says happened there in the book of Genesis, and God decided to drown everyone except Noah.
And Noah and his family are there in the Ark, and that Ark really becomes a picture (already) of redemption. The Scripture says in Genesis 6:14 that when Noah built the Ark he had pitch put on it. Pitch is tar, and what he did is he tarred all of the boards so that the Ark wouldn’t leak. The word pitch in Hebrew means to cover. It has the very same root as the word atonement, because, you see, it is the pitch that prevented the judgment of God, namely the water from coming into the Ark, and drowning them as well; and it is the atonement that God is going to provide that is going to keep us from His judgment (so that we will not fall into condemnation), and reconcile us to a holy God. And so you have the flood.

After that, as you look in the book of Genesis (and now we’re in chapter 12) you have the call of Abraham. Abraham is in Ur of the Chaldeans, and being in Ur he comes to the land that we call the land of Israel. This land is going to be the place where the whole drama of redemption is going to be acted out. It’s the most important piece of real estate in the whole world, and still is, because here eventually the Redeemer is going to be born and salvation is going to come.

Now God said to Abraham, “Abraham, I am going to make of you a great nation,” and He said also, “Through you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” So the seed of the woman is now being clarified, that it’s going to come through the lineage of Abraham by God’s sovereign choice. So you have Abraham, and he’s in the land, and you have Isaac and then you have Jacob. And Jacob has a number of sons, and one of them, by the name of Joseph, goes into the land of Egypt, and eventually as Joseph goes into the land of Eqypt (and I assume you know the story), he now becomes the means that God will use to get the whole family of Jacob into the land of Egypt, and there over a period of 400 years, they will become a nation. And they are going to experience hardship and the Pharaoh is going to work against them, but God is developing them, and God is leading them. So that leads us now to the end of the book of Genesis.

Exodus is the next book. In Exodus God raises up a deliverer by the name of Moses, and in the book of Exodus there are two marvelous examples of God’s redemption. The first example of redemption is, of course, the Passover. As they come out of Egypt, the Passover is now going to become the type of God’s spiritual deliverance. And so they leave Egypt and they come into the Promised Land, though it takes them awhile to get there, and that Passover is going to become critical in the life of the nation. Centuries later Jesus is going to have the Passover with the disciples, and He’ll invest it with new meaning and say, “This cup is the cup of the New Covenant in my blood. This, drink in remembrance of me.” And He will take the symbolism of the Passover and He will explain it in a new way because He is the fulfillment of it.

And then, in addition to the Passover, you have the Tabernacle. During the day a cloud led them. At night they were led by a pillar of fire, and you see, what happens is that all of the tents were around this Tabernacle, as explained in the book of Exodus. And the Tabernacle had in it the Ark [of the Covenant] because God was going to be localized in the Ark. If you get hung up in the book of Exodus, it is important to realize what it is God is saying here. He is saying that sin is serious, and we can’t handle it, but He will provide the way by which we can access Him (who can handle it).

People say, “Well, I don’t like this idea that there’s only one way to God.” I’m sorry, but God has not consulted with you as to what your view is. All that we can do is to say that this is the way in which God worked it out, and thankfully, Jesus becomes the fulfillment of the whole thing. And so we have the book of Exodus.

Now we get to the famous book of Leviticus, the place where people diligently read and then they come across offerings and sacrifices and priestly requirements, and hygiene ideas and commands, and a certain kind of cloth (you know, don’t mix different fabrics together), and they say, “What is this?” I’m going to help you with Leviticus right now.
First of all, always remember this: Never open the Bible to read it unless you have first of all prayed Psalm 119:18. Before you open the Bible you pray it. “Lord, open Thou my eyes that I might behold wondrous things out of Thy law,” and there’s no time when you need that more than when you enter the book of Leviticus.

Now, I need to tell you that it is okay for you to speed-read some sections in the Bible. For years I was bound. I was thinking, “Well, you know this is God’s Word. I have to read every chapter and every line.” When you get to books like the book of Leviticus, it is okay to read it quickly and get the gist of it without pausing to try to understand it all. I have seen Washington, D.C., on the ground. My wife and I have been there and we looked at the different buildings as we walked through most of Washington, D.C., but I’ve also seen it from an airplane, and when you see it from an airplane it is not disrespectful to say, “I’m not stopping to look at all of the buildings. I’m not trying to figure out all of the things and the symbolism of what the buildings mean. I’m just getting the general plan,” and when you come to the book of Leviticus, what you want is the general plan. And when you read about the sacrifices and requirements, and so forth, always remember the bottom line. The bottom line is this: God is giving rituals in Exodus and Leviticus that enable Him to dwell with His people without being contaminated with their sin and without compromising His holiness and justice. That’s the whole point. And then when you read it, thank God for Jesus because He fulfills it all, and that’s why we no longer practice these rituals. These were intended to be a picture of the real thing. You know, there’s a big difference between having a picture of someone and then the real person showing up on the stage. God says in the Old Testament, “I’m going to show you how holy I am.” The word holiness occurs 87 times in Leviticus, and the word sin occurs even more times than that. God says, “You have to understand that I am holy and you are sinful, and I am giving you a way by which you and I can exist together without Me being contaminated by your sin or compromising My holiness.” And that’s the way you need to do it.

Now I wish I had all of you slow readers in a room for ten minutes. If I had all the slow readers in a room for ten minutes I could help you, but you know what? I’m going to take out two or three minutes right now to just help you if you are a slow reader. Listen, if you are a slow reader that means you read one sentence, and then you have to read it again because you forget what you just read. Isn’t that true of slow readers? I’m going to deliver you from that right now. Here it is. If you are a slow reader (and I’m glad that 35 years ago somebody explained this to me) what you do is you take a book (not the Bible but another maybe—you want to use one that I have written and speed read it, okay?) and you read very quickly, and you don’t read line by line. You zigzag all the way through, grasping as many ideas as you can. What you are after is ideas. You turn the page. Maybe you are reading a hundred words a minute. Now you’re reading 500 words a minute, and you just keep reading 500 words a minute, page after page. Get the main idea and read. Now you do that for ten or fifteen minutes a day for three weeks. If you were reading a hundred words and now you are reading 500 words, what you do now is you go back to 250 words a minute which is more than double what you were doing and you will find out that you are picking up all the ideas. Your eyes can handle it, and your mind can handle it, and you’ll have doubled your reading speed just that fast. You can do it in three weeks. Break the habit of being a slow reader and understand that there are some passages in the Bible that you can scan and get the main gist of it. Also when you get to the prophets sometimes in chapter after chapter, they are hammering against idolatry, but keep reading.

All right. So much now for the book of Leviticus! It is a manual for the priests. That’s what it was, and notice, according to your chart, that Leviticus does not advance the Bible story line. It supports it.

In Numbers they are getting ready to go back into the land. Deuteronomy is a recap of what happened, and it’s Moses’ farewell speech, so that doesn’t really advance the story line either, so notice in your chart it occurs at the bottom.

Now in the book of Joshua they re-enter the same land. They have been in the wilderness for 40 years. Now they go over the Jordan River and they enter into the land, and the land is conquered and divided up under Joshua, but remember this: There are still pockets of resistance. Some of the Canaanites are still left in the land by design. God says, “I’m leaving them there so that they can test you.” God always leaves some enemies for Christians. That’s why He doesn’t exterminate the devil. The devil exists for the glory and the happiness and the victory of God’s saints. It’s the same reason why the Canaanites existed in Canaan.

Now after they enter the land there is the period of the Judges. The book of Judges is about Israel trying to find leaders that will help them in their fight against the Canaanites, because these warring tribes continued to become very strong.

When you get to 1 Samuel, it’s basically the story of Israel’s first king, namely Saul, and Saul turns out to be a great disappointment, but the people wanted a king and so God said, “I’m giving you Saul.”

And then David begins to enter into the picture, though his story is most prominently displayed in 2 Samuel. Second Samuel is the story of David, and when you get to David, God gives another covenant to David. He says to David, “I am going to, through your seed, give you a son who is going to rule forever,” and the son turns out to be Jesus. That’s why, you see, the angel came to Mary centuries later and said, “He shall be great. He shall be the Son of the Most High. The Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David.” There you have the beginning of the fulfillment of the Davidic Promise. So David gets a special revelation from God, and then what you have is his famous son, Solomon, and that opens 1 Kings.
Solomon turns out to be a great builder, and he builds a temple in Jerusalem, and it was extravagant. If you had gone inside of it, you would have seen all the gold that Solomon had there because he loved to do things in a big way. He sacrificed thousands of animals. And Solomon, also, was one of the wisest people in the world. He is a psychologist’s dream to analyze, because he is so wise, he writes books such as Proverbs (most of the proverbs are written by him), Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. All of those books relate to Solomon and the Temple.

Now if you go to Jerusalem and you have a guide, the guide will always talk about the First Temple period. The First Temple Period is the period of Solomon, and let’s suppose that he built it in approximately 930 B.C. (and now, because we’re B.C. the numbers are going down as we get to the time of Christ), in 586 B.C. that Temple is taken apart by the Babylonians, as you will understand in a moment. So that’s a 350-year period roughly. That’s Israel’s First Temple period. Next week I’m going to explain Israel’s Second Temple period and all of the intrigue that is involved there.

So that is Solomon, and before Solomon died, he designated a son by the name of Rehoboam as king. Now, catch this: Rehoboam was appointed by Solomon to be king, and the people came to him and said, “You know, your dad really taxed us (I mean how else do you build the temple?), and his hand was so oppressive in terms of taxation. Would you please reverse his policies and take this oppressive taxation away?” Rehoboam said, “Well, give me time to figure this out. I’ll tell you in three days.” He went to the old men for their advice, and they said, “Absolutely, the taxes are too high. Cut them.” Then he sought the advice of the young men who said, “Hey, do you know what you tell them? Tell them, ‘My dad taxed you but you ain’t seen nothing yet. It’s going to get worse,’” and so he took the advice of the young men and went to the people and said, “Under me things are going to be worse. (Oh my!) You were under my father’s thumb, but you are going to be under my hand.”

Ten of the tribes had a tea party and said, “Absolutely not. We are revolting, and we are going to establish our own capital,” and this is the period of what we call The Divided Kingdom.

What you have now is Samaria, and Samaria is both a city as well as a region, and the people said, “We’re going to establish a capital in Samaria, and we’re going to have our own kings, and we’re going to have our own means of worship. Go to Jerusalem? Absolutely not! We’re going to build our own temple on Mount Gerizim. We’re going to have our own thing on Mount Gerizim. We’re not going to Jerusalem.” So from now on you have Judah in the south (and some of the Tribe of Benjamin), and you have the Ten Tribes to the north under an entirely different king, and in the books of 1 and 2 Kings what you have are two different lines of kings. You have kings who are ruling over Israel, and you have kings who are ruling from Judah, namely from Jerusalem.

I studied in Israel in 1968. I don’t think tourists can actually go to the town of Samaria today, but I had the privilege of going there and we were able to go to Jacob’s Well. And there in Samaria you still have the ruins of the palace, and who lived in that palace? Well, Ahab lived in it with his infamous wife, Jezebel. So you see you had kings like that ruling. You had prophets like Elijah and Elisha going to Ahab and telling him to repent, and so forth, and so you have that whole history.

Now you have another line of kings beginning in Judah, and you’ve got that whole history and the kingdoms were divided, and it is during the time of the Divided Kingdom that you had all of the prophets arising, because idolatry was everywhere. People were building shrines on every single hill and they were sacrificing to the pagan gods and they were doing it with a great deal of gusto, and the prophets were saying, “Judgment is coming, judgment is coming,” and then you had false prophets. That’s why Jeremiah gave chapter after chapter about false prophets who were saying, “Good times are ahead with nothing but prosperity,” and the true prophets saying, “Judgment, judgment, judgment.”

You take, for example, the book of Isaiah. He is one example. He was in the Southern Kingdom. He was going to be exercising his ministry to the kings of the south in Jerusalem. And it says “The vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.” He had such a long ministry; it spanned four or five different kings.

By the way, look at your chart. Do you notice that 1 and 2 Chronicles don’t advance the story because they are the same history as 1 and 2 Kings, except that they give a different perspective? When you watch a football game on television do you notice that oftentimes they have two people talking? There’s one who calls the plays and then there’s another guy in the booth too. He’s adding color commentary. He’s adding things that the other left out.

Listen, I was reading some chapters in Chronicles the other day. They are so full and so rich. I’m going to be receiving emails and phone calls and all kinds of things thanking me that you got beyond Leviticus and you are now in Chronicles because you are going to be blessed. Everybody is going to be blessed.

Now, what happens, and look at this: this is in your chart too. You’ll notice that Israel is to the north and Judah is to the south. Look at the bottom of your chart. Do you see that diagram? (And by the way, those of you who are watching today on the Internet, I am told that there is an electronic version of this chart on the Internet. Don’t turn to it now because you are going to miss something, but you can get it later.) Notice what happens in 722 BC to Israel, the Ten Tribes. Assyria comes down. Assyria says, “We’re going to conquer you.” Assyria takes 27,000 Jewish people (that was a lot of people in those days) to Assyria, and what happens to them? They are lost. They are the Ten Lost Tribes. They were integrated into the other nations, and that was it.

Years ago there was a group called The British Israelites. There were those who said the people of Britain are the Ten Lost Tribes, but there is no evidence for that. They are totally obliterated in the sense that their identity has been lost, and what the Assyrians did was they brought other people that they had conquered to settle there in the land of Samaria.

Centuries passed and we read in the New Testament that the Jews had nothing to do with the Samaritans. Why? Because they were a mixed race! They were Assyrians. There were some Jews, you know, who still stayed in the land. They intermarried. They lost their identity. They had pagan worship on Mount Gerizim, and that’s the end. Now Jesus came and he had to go through Samaria, the Bible says, and there was a Samaritan woman. Who knows what her race was? And he sat with her and he explained the Gospel, and she said, “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain.”

I remember being at Jacob’s Well. You can’t go there today unfortunately, but I sat there in 1968. Mount Gerizim is there where they found the temple that they built there—the shrine—and she said, “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain, but you folks (you Jews) say that Jerusalem is the place to worship.” Jesus said, “Neither in Jerusalem nor here. Those that worship the Father must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Wow! What a powerful message. So in 722 BC they go off and then what happens is you have the Southern Kingdom (the Kingdom of Judah) that lasts about another 130 years. Remember, that’s where Solomon’s Temple was built. We’re talking about Jerusalem now, and it is there that finally in 586 BC (after the prophets just cried their hearts out, “Repent, repent, repent, judgment is coming,” the people said, “No, no, no, we like our paganism better”) through three separate campaigns Babylon came, and Solomon’s beautiful temple was destroyed so completely that we don’t even have any artifacts of it anymore. The First Temple Period was over. The 350 years were gone and the First Temple period was finished.

So what happened was that everybody (the Jews) had to go to Babylon from the South. Who got swept up in this judgment but people like Daniel? Remember this! When you have a nation under judgment (and if God judges America economically, as well He might), Christians get caught up in this too. We’re part of the judgment, so Daniel ends up in the palace in Shushan. I mean, he tells us what’s happening in Babylon. By the way, Daniel is an excellent book to study, not only because of its prophecy, but because it’s an example of how we have to live differently when we are surrounded by pagans who do not care about our rituals. Nobody in Babylon was keeping the Passover. Nobody in Babylon was concerned about the Temple, and so here you had Daniel and his friends, and other righteous Jews, living there for 70 years until God brings them back.

Now, by the way, what was the Temple? The Temple was simply taking this Tabernacle that initially was a building that could be moved (it was like a tent) and giving it a permanent home, and Solomon had done that gloriously. Sometimes people say, “We shouldn’t give money toward a building. Let’s give it to people.” Well, you know, Solomon built that wonderful temple and God apparently was pleased because after the sacrifices you remember the glory of the Lord came upon it, but now it is totally destroyed.

For 70 years now, this remnant was going to be in Babylon, and then they were going to be brought back, and then God is going to pick up the story, and let me say this: Next week I will pick up that story too.

Where does this leave us? What is the bottom line? The bottom line is: What God is trying to convey through all those books of the Old Testament is that sin is terrible. Human beings, left to themselves, will leave the true God and they’ll worship idols and they’ll enjoy doing it. Let me ask you a question. All throughout the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom, the big issue was idolatry. They would have these shrines on the hills and they’d worship the different pagan gods.

Someday I am going to preach an entire message on this, but my question today is, what was the great attraction of idolatry? Why were they constantly going back to idols? There were a couple of reasons. First of all, there was some financial benefit that I’ll describe at some later time (perhaps if God wills). Secondly, this was a very highly sexualized kind of paganism, and you will find people throughout the ages doing all that they possibly can to try to convince themselves that God is not upset with sexual immorality. Whether is it homosexual marriage, or whether it is infidelity within marriage, people will do everything to try to justify it and to say that God approves. Paganism is waiting for people. Paganism says, “Yes, you can live this way, in this sexualized culture, and you can still worship the true God, too,” and the people bought the lie.

Of course the major message is God’s grace. You see, in our politically correct culture today (and I know what I’ve said today is not politically correct exactly), people always ask this question: “Why doesn’t God just save everybody?” The Bible nowhere answers that question. It answers an entirely different question, namely, “How can God save anybody?” That’s the issue because God is so holy, and we are such sinners. The $64 question that is answered in the Bible is, “How does a Holy God connect with people, and how can His presence be among His people when they are sinners?” That’s the big issue, and by the way, the presence of God is always the distinguishing mark of God’s people. Always! Old Testament and New Testament! When people walk into Moody Church, because of what they see, and because of what they hear as we sing, they should say, “Surely, God is in that place.” It’s always the presence of God, and what God is saying is that sin is terrible, and you can’t come bumbling into His presence with your sin unless you have some way that that sin can be forgiven and cleansed, and that’s where Jesus comes in.

Jesus is going to be born centuries later and He’s going to fulfill these Old Testament rituals and He is going to say to you that if you believe on Him you will be reconciled to God, but if you don’t, the wrath of God abides on you, no matter how content you are with your sinfulness. The bottom line always has to do with how we manage our sin. That is the issue, and with that today, I close.

Would you join me as we pray together?

Father, we thank You today that you found a way by which you could dwell with Your people without compromising Your holiness or being contaminated by us. Thank you for Jesus, the one mediator between God and man, and we ask today that, in His grace, those who have listened to this message who have never trusted Him as their Savior may do so right now, even during this prayer. May they say, “Jesus, save me.” And for those of us who love Him, may we love Him more because of all that He did for us as sinners. Thank you that the seed of the woman crushed the head of the serpent, and we walk today in His victory. We thank you in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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