Exodus 28 records when God told Moses to choose people to make the garment to be worn by Aaron (and all high priests that would follow). This garment was to be worn by Aaron when he entered the Tabernacle. This outfit included (Ex. 28:4) a breastplate, ephod (shoulder-piece), robe, woven tunic, turban (mitre/hat), and sash (girdle/belt). This outfit would set him apart from the other priests and certainly set him apart from any priest or high priest among the pagan worshippers.
As we continue reading the chapter, God speaks specifically that the ephod (shoulder-piece) would have onyx stones attached to it that had the names of the tribes on it – six on each stone (v. 9-10). The breastplate would contain twelve gemstones and have the name of the tribe on each stone (v. 15-21), and the Urim and Thummim would be placed in that breastplate. Upon the turban was to be a plate that said, “Holiness to the Lord” (v. 36). These things, as well as a robe, the linen breeches, and all that pertained to this garment, were worn by the high priest.
When we read Leviticus 8:7-9, we see Aaron wear this outfit for the first time. Leviticus 8-9 describes for us the first time that the sacrifices and work described from Exodus and Leviticus become a reality. By the end of Leviticus 9, Moses and Aaron had successfully offered the sin offering, burnt offering, and peace offering and blessed the people (v. 22-23). God then “lit the fire” that consumed the burnt offering on the altar (Lev. 9:24).
What a day that must have been! What loveliness on that day in Leviticus nine! What majesty as men observed God Himself light a fire on the altar and accept His offering (Lev. 9:24)! What beauty when Aaron had walked into the Tabernacle bearing the tribes upon his shoulders and his heart (Lev. 9:23; Ex. 28:12, 29) as he did his holy duty. As we continue to read Leviticus, we will see this man carry the blood of the sacrifices into the Most Holy Place (Lev. 16) to obtain forgiveness for the people.
This Old Testament “shadow” looked forward to the day in which a high priest with an “unchangeable priesthood” (Heb. 7:23-24) would come and offer a sacrifice “once and for all” (Heb. 10:10, 7:27, 9:26)! The numerous high priests serving in the Tabernacle and later the Temple “foreshadowed” the One who serves in the “true Tabernacle” that God pitched (Heb. 8:2, 9:11)!
This same high priest came into the “true Tabernacle” with blood, but not the blood of bulls and goats. He entered with His own blood for man’s forgiveness (Heb. 9:12, 14, 10:19-22)! This is the only time in history when the high priest was also the sacrifice! The unchangeable high priest entered, not merely bearing the names of twelve tribes on His heart and shoulders. Instead, the living embodiment of “Holiness” entered (Heb. 10:12, 14) bearing the names of humanity (Matt. 20:28; Heb. 2:9b; I Pet. 1:18-19; Matt. 26:28; I Jn. 2:2; Col. 1:18-23)!
Unlike the sacrifices of the Old Testament that pertained only to the Jews, the sacrifice of Christ pertained to the entire world! The only question left to answer is will you accept the Lord’s salvation? In Old Testament times, children were taught to “know the Lord” because they were already Jews and had circumcised their sons on the eighth day of life (Lev. 12:2-3; Heb. 8:11). Today, we accept the Lord’s adoption willingly when we believe on Jesus as the Son of God, repent of our sins, confess our faith in Christ, and are baptized for the remission of sins (Jn. 8:24; Lk. 13:3; Rom. 10:10; Acts 2:38).
Have you done this? Have you accepted the Lord’s plan and been washed in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 1:5; Matt. 26:28; Acts 22:16)? If not, why not? There is no other way to be saved! There are no other priests to offer a sacrifice because no other sacrifice will be made (Heb. 10:26b)! The high priests under the Mosaic period looked forward to the time in which we live! Will you accept the sacrifice of God’s unchangeable high priest (Heb. 6:20)? I beg you to do it today!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
When the Jews offered sacrifices, we note that God has something to say about what happened to the blood of the sacrifices. Eight times in Leviticus, we read where God expected the priests (or Moses) to put blood on the horns of the altar, and then the rest of the blood was to be poured “at the bottom of the altar” (Lev. 4:7, 18, 25, 30, 34, 5:9, 8:15, 9:9).
As I read these passages and thought about the animals offered, I got to thinking that it would not take long for this area to stink and, on occasion, have blood pooled up around the altar after the priests had offered many sacrifices. In the days of Solomon when the Temple was built, the Bible speaks of 22,000 oxen, and 120,000 sheep offered to God (I Kings 8:63)! Think of feast days such as the Passover and other times when the multitudes had gathered and offered their sacrifices! Can we fathom the volume of blood that poured from that altar?
Is there any wonder why God required the numerous washings by the priests and commanded them to wash their hands and feet before going into the Tabernacle and Temple? Their hands and feet would have been coated in blood! I wonder how long it would be before the laver itself, once filled with water for their purification, had become blood-red?
Why did God require blood in connection with the sacrifices? “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb. 9:22). Blood was necessary in God’s plan. These people needed to see the price of sin. They needed to understand that the consequences of sin were bloody and ugly. They needed to know that sin affected more than just the individual and that, yes, sometimes the innocent will suffer for the deeds of the wicked!
Don’t we also need to understand the price of sin? Don’t we also need to see that the consequences of our sins are bloody, ugly, and affect other people besides ourselves? Don’t we need an object lesson that our sins will hurt innocent people? I believe if we truly faced what our sins do, then sin would not look the same to us anymore! It would repulse us, and we would want to get away from it. Just like when Judas threw the money back at the chief priests and elders in the Temple after Jesus was condemned to death (Matt. 27:1-5), we also would run away from our sins when we understand what it did to the innocent One!
Remember that Christ, the “Lamb of God” (Jn. 1:29), died as the sacrifice for man’s sin. He suffered, and His blood poured out from His various wounds as He died on the cross (Zech. 13:1)! Look with the eye of faith to His sacrifice and understand “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:14). Yes, the “Just” suffered for the “unjust” (I Pet. 3:18)! His blood was shed “for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:28). After He died, a cruel soldier pierced His side “and forthwith came there out blood and water” (Jn. 19:34).
Every time blood was shed and poured at the altar in Old Testament days, it pointed to the blood of the innocent One whose blood could take away sin (Heb. 9:24-26, 10:4)! His blood poured down to the ground and pooled around the cross for a time. Perhaps folks there stepped in it? We know there were many gathered around His cross (Jn. 19:24-27; Mk. 15:29-32; Matt. 27:47-49). I am sure some Roman soldiers had Christ’s literal blood on their hands and clothes since some argued and gambled over His bloody garment (Matt. 27:35, Jn. 19:24), and others had whipped and beat Jesus’ back (Matt. 27:26; Mk. 15:15; Jn. 19:1)! No doubt Christ’s blood could be seen at the whipping post, and from here, one could follow His blood trail to Golgotha! Now, as Christ is suspended between heaven and earth, we see Jesus’ blood drip down and pool at the ground! What a bloody altar the cross is!
The people of the Old Testament knew something about blood and something about the cost of sin. Do we appreciate that cost? Jesus died so we might live (II Cor. 5:14-15; Rom. 12:1-2). His stripes heal us (Isa. 53:5; I Pet. 2:24)! His blood cleanses us (Rev. 1:5, 7:14)! His blood purchased the church (Acts 20:28; I Pet. 1:18-19)! Have we ever paused to consider the actual cost of sin and the magnificence of Christ’s sacrifice?
When the Jewish people looked at the bloody altar at the Tabernacle or Temple, they came to realize the reality of sin. What will we do when we look at Christ’s blood?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
One of the saddest verses, next to Jeremiah 8:20, is the three questions asked in Jeremiah 8:22. The Lord asks, “Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” I struggled with what was being asked until I came to understand that these were rhetorical questions. Interestingly, Jeremiah 8:22 is written entirely differently in the NET. There, we read, “There is still medicinal ointment available in Gilead! There is still a physician there! Why then have my dear people not been restored to health?” These translators chose to forego the ambiguity of the rhetorical questions and simply state the facts. Whether or not we agree with such actions is a discussion for another time. The point is that God was emphasizing to the people (yet again) that their transgressions could be healed if they would be willing to change. This was done by pointing out a physical truth to make a spiritual point.
Using physical examples to make a spiritual point was how Jesus taught the majority of His time on earth (Matt. 13:34-35). His teachings are called “parables,” but in Jeremiah, this was not a parable but instead a rhetorical question to open the eyes of the people. Is there no balm in Gilead? “Balm” was used for medicinal purposes, and Gilead, and this region, was known for having an abundant supply. “Is there no physician there?” Again, in Gilead, there would be doctors in abundance ready to apply the balm to the hurting. Since a lack of balm and a lack of doctors is not the problem, then why are His people not recovered?
The reason they had not been recovered is the same reason someone might not recover physically even if there is “balm in Gilead.” What is this reason? In order to be healed physically, those people needed to apply the balm to the affected area! If one refuses the medicine, do not be surprised if this person does not recover from the illness! In like manner, if Israel (and us by application) refuses to listen and apply God’s teaching, then they will never recover from the harm of sin and will die in that condition! Remember, they have already told Jeremiah “no” in 6:16, and it does not look like they will change anytime soon. Therefore, when Babylon comes to conquer, when multitudes die, when people are enslaved, and when the land is ravaged, it is not because the people did not have “balm.” It is not that they had no one to heal (physician), it is because they refused to accept God’s “medicine”!
I hope that the application to Jeremiah 8:22 is apparent to us (Rom. 15:4). Though Babylon is not coming to destroy, we still face something greater than a physical threat, for we are facing a judgment day (Heb. 9:27; Acts 17:30-31; II Cor. 5:10; Ecc. 12:13-14). Sadly, there is a real possibility of people dying in their sins (Jn. 8:24; Jas. 1:14-15; II Thess. 1:6-9). If we die in our sins, who can we blame for this besides ourselves (Ezek. 18:20; Col. 3:25)? Is there no “balm,” the gospel, that tells us what to do to be saved from our sins (Rom. 1:16; II Tim. 3:6-17)? Is there not a physician, a “great Physician” who is ready to heal our spiritual ills (Matt. 9:12, 11:28-30)? Then why is there a world of people not yet saved? I think I know at least part of the reason is that those who are aware of the Physician’s prescription (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38) do not want to accept it! I say again, if we are sick and refuse to accept the medicine the doctor prescribes, then do not be surprised if you do not recover from the illness! While I know people can cite dozens of cases where people “wore out” their physical sickness with time and determination, there is no one who will “wear out” the spiritual sickness called “sin”! There is only one cure for it, and if you refuse the cure, nothing else will cure you!
In the long ago, God, through Jeremiah, called out to his people to tell them that there is a way to be healed if they would accept, and they said “no”! These people are dead and gone and have died with their decisions. You and I are still alive, though! What will you do? What will be your response to the Lord and His plan for healing (saving) you from your spiritual ills? Choose wisely (Heb. 3:7-8; II Cor. 6:2)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
“They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14). God had to deal with false teachers in this time, trying to assure the people of “peace and safety” when no such thing was coming. Not in the immediate future, anyway! Jeremiah would face the false teacher, Hananiah, in Jeremiah 28, who claimed God would return the people from Babylon in “two full years” rather than the actual 70 years God had said (Jer. 25:11-12, 29:10; Dan. 9:2)! Again, here is a man trying to proclaim “Peace” and “Everything will be all right” (NET) when that wasn’t the case at all.
Why might men like Hananiah and others want to tell people such falsehoods as “peace peace”? Could it be they thought men might pay them more to hear the pleasant message? Maybe they thought they would be more popular with the people? We know a message of victory and winning is much more popular than a message saying that we will lose! Jeremiah had the unenviable task of telling Judah that the best thing for them to do is give up and accept the punishment and be patient for 70 years (Jer. 27:1-11)! Who wants to have that job?
Jeremiah had an unpopular job, but it was for the best. His message was from God (Jer. 28:9, 15-17); the others’ messages were not. In like manner, we face an uphill battle because “Peace, peace” is the more popular message! Just as in Jeremiah’s day, Paul warned of people who would “not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables” (II Tim. 4:3-4). Does this sound like the attitude we see among people today? Yes, it is alive well today, just as it was in days gone by!
We must make a choice. Will we listen to those who call and cry for “peace” when there is no peace? Yes, we ought to strive for peace with God and peace among others (Matt. 5:9). Yet, remember that Christ said His kingdom would bring a “sword” among the closest of family (Matt. 10:21-22, 34-39). There is no “peace” to be had between God and Satan. They are diametrically opposed, as are their teachings (II Cor. 6:14-17). Let us stop trying to be a friend of God and a friend of the world when this is impossible (Jas. 4:4). It is high time we spoke the message of the Lord, that will hurt some, but bring healing to all in the end, as Paul did on the ship (Acts 27:10). At Ephesus, Paul said he spent three years preaching “all the counsel of God” and warning people, “night and day with tears” (Acts 20:27, 31). I wonder why Paul was crying? I wonder if he made those listening cry sometimes? What if it was a little of both? Why would Paul preach a message that caused people to “cry,” that made people “tremble” (Acts 24:25), and that caused some to run him out of town (Acts 17:10-15)? Wouldn’t it have been easier just to tell people, “peace, peace”? We could ask Jeremiah the same question. Isn’t it easier to just say, “peace, peace”?
We know what is easier to say, but it does not mean it is a better message. The best message is the message that comes from the Lord (Jn. 17:17). The best message is the one that has not been diluted by men’s thoughts and feelings (Gal. 1:6-10). The best message is the message that tells us what to do to be saved and then encourages us to continue to be faithful to God (Acts 2:37-38; I Cor. 15:58; Matt. 7:13-14)!
“Peace, peace” is, in our vernacular, sugar-coating the truth! As a friend of mine says, if you want sugar-coating, eat a doughnut! If you want the truth, listen to the Lord’s words (I Pet. 4:11; Jn. 17:17), and be ready to repent and to obey (Jas. 1:22-25)! Jeremiah preached the truth, but people didn’t want to hear this and were destroyed. You and I have a chance to listen to God’s word and obey (Ecc. 12:13). What will you do? Now is the time to decide!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
In Jeremiah chapter two, God declares that His people had committed “two evils” (v. 13). These evils were: “they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and have hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” In short, this verse tells us why the people were in the shape they were in, spiritually. This explains why they were facing an enemy like Babylon and why Jeremiah, and other prophets, had warned the people of their unrepentant sin and impending doom for years. At the same time, this verse gives us insight into why our country and society are in the shape it is in today! What can we learn from this short passage (Rom. 15:4)?
Judah’s problem was that they had forsaken the “fountain of living waters.” The phrase “living water” would be stated again in Jeremiah 17:13. This was repeated in the New Testament when Christ referred to the living water He could give to the Samaritan woman and whoever else wished to have it (Jn. 4:14). Revelation 22:17 tells us that “whosoever will, may take of the water of life freely.”
Notice that forsaking God meant forsaking the “living water.” The Jews had forsaken God through their words and deeds. Have we not done the same? Look around and note the immorality, the utter abandon for anything that reminds us of God. In America, Christians have not “resisted unto blood” yet; but at times, the majority will make Christians feel ashamed for mentioning God, the Bible, truth, morality, godly standards, etc., in public. Our children learn early that it is hard to stand alone in school. I can remember numerous times where I stood alone in the face of friends, teachers, and others and had to say I would do what the Lord said even if others did not like it. Friends, have you had to make such stands? I am sure many of our dear readers have. When we stand like Jeremiah, Amos, and numerous others did in history, people might tell you to keep your religion to yourself or tell you to keep your beliefs “private.” This is because the majority has rejected the “fountain of living waters”! We have laws in our land that allow murder, fornication, drinking, gambling, and many other things. Our country has legalized many things God calls sin. Then, the majority of the people engage in these things because they are legal! Is there any wonder why I am finding a small number of people who are now ready to listen to God and do His will? They have tried what Satan and the world have to offer, and they are dehydrated! They need the true water and will find it nowhere else but with Christ (Jn. 4).
The last part of Jeremiah 2:13 notes what happens when people reject God. You see, if man rejects God (Jehovah) in his life, then he does not simply forget God. He must then put another “god” in Jehovah’s place! Please notice in this passage that it wasn’t enough that men rejected God, the “fountain of living water.” What happened next? They still needed water, so they went and dug their own cisterns (v. 13)! The problem was that the cisterns they dug could not hold water! Physically, we would think a person foolish who has access to a clear stream, where he might use free water, who then digs a cistern to carry water to his house. Yet, we do this spiritually when we reject God but then invent our own “gods!”
This is what Paul (by inspiration) said that the Gentiles did at one point. He showed that these people were so wicked that they “did not like to retain God in their knowledge” (Rom. 1:28). What they had done was “changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image make like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts and creeping things” (Rom. 1:23). Notice that these people didn’t reject God and then stop worshipping anything. Instead, they rejected God and found another god (in the case of the Gentiles, they created many)!
We have committed these same two evils today! We have rejected God and then made our own gods to worship! While some may think I overstate a case, I don’t believe I have. When God is taken off of His throne, men will put something or someone in that place. It might be a job, some physical pursuit, or hobby. It may be self, family, etc., but something will go in that spot! Sadly, we have elected officials who have been only too willing through the years to legalize sins so that they could be reelected! Rest assured, whatever we select in place of God will be a poor substitute -- just as poor as rejecting cool, clean water for drinking water we get from a leaky cistern! Rest assured, we will also suffer as those people suffered for rejecting God! “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Num. 32:23). That was true in Old Testament days, and it is true today! If we wish to avoid the consequences of our sinful behavior, then let us repent of our sins now (II Pet. 3:9; Acts 17:30)! Let us turn back to God while we still can! We didn’t get this way in a day, and it will take more than a day to make all the corrections necessary. However, if we don’t start today, when will we start (Heb. 3:7-8; II Cor. 6:2)? If we do not act now, when will we act? What is it going to take for us to listen to God? Let’s begin today to aright the ship of this nation and not continue in the same error as Judah!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs