Lord's Day Evening Meditations September
For The House of our God
We have seen how the remnant had taken a right
position as God's people. They had been listening to His Word,
and that Word had reached their consciences, making them desire
to do all that was written there. They went about it the wrong
way, making a covenant, but they wanted to do the right thing,
and in this they are an excellent example for us. May we also,
as we listen to the Word of God, allow it to awaken desires in
our hearts to do all that it asks of us.
They had separated from the heathen of the land
and from their filthy practices, and now they intended to maintain
that separation (v. 30). They purposed to observe the Sabbath
day according to the law (v. 31). We have the Lord's Day to reserve
for Him. They would also leave "the exaction of every
debt," (v. 31), speaking to us of forgiving personal
wrongs and grievances. Then, in verse 32 they charged themselves
yearly "with the third part of a shekel for the service
of the house of our God." Notice that all that follows
was in connection with "the house of our God,"
a phrase that occurs over and over in the next few verses.
"The service of the house of our God"
required the provision of many things: animals for the many offerings,
wood to burn the offerings, flour, oil, wine, food for the priests
and Levites, etc. The "third part of a shekel"
was to be put to the purchasing of all these necessary things.
Just the continual burnt offering of two lambs every day would
require many lambs in one year! Someone had to pay for them! Remember
that all this was in connection with "the house of our
God," which for us today is the assembly, the
two or three, or more, who are gathered to the Lord's name, by
the Holy Spirit, and who thus function locally as representing
the body of Christ. Each assembly has material needs, such as
for ourselves here: a meeting room with rent to pay and repairs
to make, bread and wine for the remembrance, furniture, light
and heat, snow removal, etc. It is the responsibility and privilege
of those who compose the assembly to provide the money needed
to meet these expenses.
But there are other needs besides material needs,
and we will get them in the next few verses. First, there was
the shewbread. v. 33. In the tabernacle and temple, in the holy
place, if you faced the veil, you would see the table of shewbread
on the right. It was made of wood and covered with gold. On it
were placed twelve loaves which were to be replaced with fresh
loaves every Sabbath day. The twelve loaves represented the twelve
tribes of Israel, and the table presented and maintained them
continually before God. The table of shewbread speaks of Christ
and of how He continually presents and maintains His people in
the presence of God. However, if Christ faithfully presents His
own to God and intercedes for them, we also are exhorted to present
them to God in prayer. We can do this personally, continually,
but as this is in connection with "the house of our God,"
we can see here an assembly responsibility - to bear up the Lord's
people before God in prayer. This brings before us the regular
prayer meeting, a very important function of the
Next was "the continual meat offering."
v. 33. It should read "meal offering" instead
of "meat offering" because it was made of
flour, not meat. The "meal offering" was made
of fine flour, "mingled with oil," and the
regular one was also accompanied with frankincense. The continual
burnt offering was always accompanied with a meal offering. Read
Numbers 28:3 - 9. The meal offering speaks of Christ, and His
perfect life as a man on earth, perfectly even and pure, in the
power of the Holy Spirit, which when under trial, only produced
a sweet savour to God. In the regular meal offering, the priest
took a handful of the flour, with all of the frankincense, and
burned it on the altar as a sacrifice. The remainder of the meal
offering was eaten by the priests. Every believer today is a priest
to God, and as priests, some of our food is the Person of the
Lord Jesus Christ, that perfect Man Whom we find in the Word of
God. How and when do we get that food? We should be getting some
of it on our own every day. But as this is in connection with
"the house of our God," we have here the meetings
for the purpose of having the Word, the ministry
or the reading meeting, very necessary on a regular
They also intended to make full provision for "the
continual burnt offering … and for the sin offerings to make an
atonement for Israel." v. 33. The burnt offering and
the sin offering both speak of the death of Christ at Calvary,
but in two different aspects. The burnt offering aspect is Christ
offering Himself to God; the sin offering aspect is Christ
offering Himself for us. See Eph. 5:2. Just as the continual
burnt offering caused the sweet savour of the sacrifice to ascend
to God continually, so the sweet savour of the sacrifice of Christ
is always before God. It should also always be before us and be
foremost in our thoughts; however, there is an occasion on which
that wondrous sacrifice is brought especially before us. Our Saviour's
dying request was, "This do in remembrance of Me,"
and so on the Lord' Day, in the meeting for the remembrance
of the Lord, we go back to Calvary and not only see that
sacrifice once again, but also express our adoration and worship
in response to such unspeakable love and grace.
The next thing, in verse 34, was that they would
provide for "the wood offering … to burn upon the altar
of the Lord our God." The fire on the altar of burnt
offering was to burn continually, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,
all year long. Can you imagine how much wood was needed simply
to keep the fire going, beside what was required to burn all the
various offerings? It would be a tremendous amount for a whole
year! Where did this wood come from? It had to be provided for.
What they did was that they divided the group into families, and
each family had a time period assigned to them in which it was
their responsibility to supply the wood. Notice that the responsibility
was shared; it didn't all fall on one or two. Also note that when
the wood burned, along with the sacrifice, it became part of the
sacrifice and of the sweet savour that went up to God.
Often, in the Old Testament types, wood speaks
of the Lord's humanity - how He became a man, with a body like
ours. When Abraham went to offer up Isaac, he laid the wood on
Isaac. Christ took on the burden of manhood in order to be able
to die for us. In the tabernacle, the ark and the table of shewbread
were made of wood, covered over with gold - type of His humanity
and His deity. The altar of burnt offering was also made of wood,
covered over with brass - type of the Man, the only man, Who could
bear the judgment of God for our sins.
Is there an application of this to ourselves? We
also have bodies, and in Romans 12:1 we read, "I beseech
you … that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable
unto God, which is your reasonable service." There
is "the wood offering" for today. The Lord
didn't only redeem our souls. He redeemed us "spirit,
soul, and body." In the context of "the house
of our God," an assembly cannot even exist unless there
are a certain number of "bodies" present,
some of the Lord's people who are willing to put other things
aside for the Lord's sake and say, "I'll be there."
And being present, there have to be those who are exercised to
be clean vessels which are available to the Lord for His use.
If we met here for an hour and had an hour of silence because
no one was willing to do what was required, according to the purpose
of the meeting, there soon would be no assembly at all! Remember
that the wood on Israel's altar became part of the sacrifice,
and if we yield our bodies to our Lord in this way, they will
be "a living sacrifice" which will be a pleasure
and an honour to Him. Remember that the remnant also planned to
share the responsibility of "the wood offering."
How important that is! This remnant was weak and failing, but
may their desires awaken similar desires in our hearts. S.L.