Edwards: Obedience

“We should travel on as a way of obedience to all God’s commands, even the difficult, as well as the easy, commands. We should travel on in a way of self-denial, denying all our sinful inclinations and interests. The way to heaven is ascending; we must be content to travel up hill, though it be hard, and tiresome, and contrary to the natural tendency and bias of our flesh, that tends downward to the earth. We should follow Christ in the path that he has gone; the way that he traveled in was the right way to heaven. We should take up our cross and follow him. We should travel along in the same way of meekness and lowliness of heart, in the same way of obedience, and charity, and diligence to do good, and patience under afflictions.”

-Jonathan Edwards, Sermon: The True Christian’s Life, A Journey Towards Heaven (Hebrews 11:13-14.

One in Christ

Members of one another
Yet we don’t all work the same
One has grace to give and one to pray
When one member is hurting
All the others feel the pain
Others can rejoice and it’s our gain

We are all in one body
We are called to one hope
And we drink of one Spirit
We are one in Christ

Bearing with one another
In humility and peace
We will walk into the hope as we’ve been called
Faithfully we will labor
For the splendor of Your bride
Growing in the leadership of Christ

Father send us Your Spirit
To instruct us in Your Word
And give us gifts to use for others good
Let us join with Your Helper
Who empowers us to sing
The mercies and the triumph of our King

-Nic McLean

Ellison: Millennial Animal Sacrifices

“For those that take [the Animal Sacrifices in Ezekiel] seriously as a Divine revelation and not merely as Ezekiel’s programme for the future clothed in vision form, the sacrifices provide the real crux in its interpretation. Make the sacrifices symbolic and the temple becomes symbolic too; take the temple literally and we have to agree that there will be animal sacrifices in the Millennium.

I have no difficulty in a vision of sacrifice in a symbolic temple, for it was the guarantee to Ezekiel that the great principles of Divine redemption remained good to the end of time, but I require stronger evidence than this vision to accept against all the weight of New Testament evidence that the Levitical sacrifices will be reintroduced.

The paradox of Hebrews, “Apart from shedding of blood there is no remission” (9:22), and “It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins” (10:4) is already latent in the Old Testament. Already in Num. 15:30f. we have a major limitation on the efficacy of animal sacrifices, for they are there declared unavailing for deliberate sin; there is, however, nowhere in the Old Testament any suggestion that those who commit deliberate sin are finally cut off from Divine forgiveness.

Whether it be in the cry of Psa. 51:1-17, with its express disclaimer of sacrifice in v.16, or in the reiterated prophetic appeal to repentance (cf. especially Ezek. 18), there is the clear vision of Jehovah, “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin (Ex. 34:6f.) which is basic to the whole Old Testament revelation. The sacrifices stand as a perpetual mysterious reminder that forgiveness is de- pendent on more than God’s grace, but this something does not begin to be truly revealed until Isa. 52:13-53:12.

Ezekiel’s vision underlines the promise of Jer. 3:16f., for there is no ark and mercy seat in the new temple. Why should we think that Ezekiel failed to rise to the level of his prophetic predecessors, who, though they did not reject sacrifices, as an earlier generation of scholars thought, yet relegated them to a purely secondary place of no real or vital importance? Indeed, one of the most remarkable features of [the book of Ezekiel] is its virtual ignoring of sacrifices until [Chapters 40-48], and even here there is relatively little said about them.

Presumably all who regard the temple as millennial and take the sacrifices literally would subscribe to the statement in the Scofield Bible (p.890): ‘Doubtless these offerings will be memorials, looking back to the cross, as the offerings under the old covenant were anticipatory, looking forward to the cross. In neither case have animal sacrifices power to put away sin (Heb.10:4; Rom.3:25).’

Though I fully recognize their sincerity, I must beg them to realize that those who cannot follow with them are no despisers of the Scriptures. They read Hebrews to mean that the abolition of the Aaronic priesthood and of the Levitical sacrifices is final and for ever.

In addition they cannot see why, when water, bread and wine have met the symbolic needs of nearly a thousand generations of Christians, the Millennium will need more. The King has returned and the curse on nature has been lifted; why should the animal creation still lay down its life?

The fact is that the ultra-dispensationalist is apt so to divide up the revelation of God that he fails to see it in its completeness. Above all he fails to realize that while human response to the Divine revelation may ebb and flow, the revelation itself never turns back but always deepens. There is presumably more privilege in this dispensation for the predestinated member of the Church, but in the Millennium, as the temporal prepares itself for the eternal, there will be neither less knowledge nor blessing.

Indeed I find it hard to believe that it is meant seriously, when I am told that our present freedom for all to worship equally in all places will be replaced by a position in which man’s privilege of worship will depend in measure on his geographical relationship to an earthly Jerusalem. The suggestions of supersonic aircraft bringing pilgrims to Jerusalem and of others sharing in the temple services by television are tragi-comic.”

-H.L. Ellison, Ezekiel: The Man and His Message

Ellison: Undue Pride

“Two reasons are given for Pharaoh’s punishment [Ezekiel 29], but it is likely that both ultimately go back to the same cause.

The lesser is his completely callous use of Israel as a cat’s paw (vv. 6f.). This was clearly seen by the Rabshakeh (II Kings 18:21), and it lies behind Isaiah’s condemnation of every approach to and entanglement with Egypt (see also [Ezekiel 16]).

Behind the Pharaoh’s willingness to use others without any thought of their welfare lay not only the natural selfishness of man but even more the belief that he was a god incarnate.

It is always a very evil thing when a man persuades himself that for any reason he is not subject to the normal limitations of man; he will always end by falling lower than the normal level of mankind.”

-H. L. Ellison, Ezekiel: The Man and His Message, 113.

Lewis: Thoughts from Screwtape

Screwtape: “One must face…an appalling truth. He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself-creatures whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His. We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to suck in, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over.”

-C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, 45.