Doers Of The Law Will Be Justified

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Does Romans really teach the law has been abolished? The answer is, emphatically no.

The problem that Christians have with Paul in Romans 6 and 7 is that Paul is talking about two laws, the law of God and the law of sin (Romans 7:25). In Romans 8:2, these two laws are referred to as the law of the Spirit and the law of sin and death. Christians can’t see these two laws clearly because they lack a solid foundation of Torah from a Hebraic perspective and because they have accepted incorrect teaching that has been passed down to them for many generations.

Let’s begin this discussion with Romans 2:9:  “There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek.”  Is the opposite of this true?  It should be, but it sure hasn’t been my experience.  The law of YHVH defines what is good, righteous, and holy. It defines evil by telling us what to avoid.  If we don’t embrace the law of YHVH, we can expect tribulation and distress on a regular basis, especially as the end comes upon us. Of course, we can also expect this when we are surrounded by others who commit evil too.  It’s just how life can be.

Paul is really not presenting a new concept.  He’s presenting what Moses said in Deuteronomy 11:26-28. Basically, you will be blessed if you obey the commandments of YHVH your God, or you will be cursed if you disobey the commandments of YHVH your God.

When we think about our lives, we know that we have often given in to the sinful desires of the flesh.  Just as Messiah died and was raised from the dead, we are to put to death the deeds and desires of the flesh and walk in newness of life by the power of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit).

We are not to be slaves of sin but slaves of righteousness.  According to John 8:34, “if you commit sin, you are a slave of sin.”  Since we all sin from time to time, I think he is speaking more in terms of habitual sin.  In Romans 6:6, Paul said that our old man was crucified with Messiah so that the body of sin might be done away with; in other words, we should no longer be slaves of sin.  Sin came into the world through Adam; this resulted in death being spread to all men.  In a similar fashion, Messiah reversed that result through one act of righteousness. Previously, Adam’s sin led to the condemnation of many, but Messiah’s righteousness led to justification of many.

So what is justification? Justification is the action of declaring someone righteous in God’s sight.  It is a separate act from what the law does, and it takes place as a result of a few separate things (Romans 3:21-31).

First, there is an act of righteousness that comes through faith.  For Abraham, it was a faith that God would keep His promise that Abraham’s descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the heaven (Genesis 15:4-6).  That one act of belief was considered righteousness for Abraham. It was an act of faith that looked into the future, which he could not see with his own eyes.  For us, our act of faith is believing that God raised Yeshua from the dead (Romans 4:23-25). This is an act of faith that looks into the past, which we cannot see with our own eyes.

Second, there is an act of righteousness that comes by God’s grace as a gift.  This gift or act of righteousness is God’s free to us, but it was a costly gift from the Father.  It was the cost of redemption put forth by God; it was the blood of Yeshua given as a propitiation for our sin.

When we believe that God raised Yeshua from the dead, we are believing/trusting that we have been redeemed from the curse of the law of sin and death with the blood of Yeshua, which was given as a propitiation for our sin. Folks, this is not the end of the story as most Christians believe it to be.

These two acts of righteousness were performed by two different parties to draw us into an ancient covenant with one another.  I’m speaking of the covenant on Mount Sinai where YHVH gave the terms of the covenant to Moses to pass on to the mixed multitude that came out of Egypt.

We can see this displayed in the following chiasm:

Faith of Abraham: that YHVH would keep His promise of many descendants and give him land as an inheritance. Abraham killed and cut the offerings given for the covenant where God, as a smoking oven and burning torch walked between the cut parts (Genesis 15:4-21). 

God sending Moses to lead the people out of slavery and through the waters of the Red Sea to the other side.

A seh (animal from the sheep or the goats) was offered as Passover sacrifice for the Threshold Covenant.

**Covenant on Mount Sinai

Yeshua was offered as the Passover Lamb for the New Threshold Covenant. The terms of this covenant are the same as the original; these terms are to be written on our hearts.

God send Yeshua to lead people out of slavery to sin. They are to receive the baptism of repentance. They are to cross over/be raised from death to life.

Faith of believers: that God raised Yeshua from the dead so they could walk in newness of life. Believers must receive the free gift of God’s grace with which He redeemed us; this gift of grace was God offering His son, Yeshua as a propitiation for our sin by the hands of wicked men. Believers now stand in grace because they have been bought with a price.

In Romans 3:31, Paul himself said that the law is not abolished because of man’s faith in Yeshua. Indeed, Paul upheld the law of YHVH.  Not only that, Paul previously said, “all who have sinned under the law of YHVH will be judged by the law of YHVH (Romans 2:1).”

Now let me present two apparently conflicting statements Paul made:

  • “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified (Romans 2:13).”
  • “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20).”

Which is it? Is Paul trying to confuse us?  Can both verses be correct? Yes, they can!  The problem is that these verses are often quoted out of context.  Paul has made statements with ellipses.  We must use the context of the text to insert words into the ellipses for it to all make sense.

In Romans 2, Paul is comparing and contrasting lawless, wicked people with lawful, righteous people. It’s a basic repeat of the warning Moses gave to the people long ago.  If you obey YHVH’s commands, you will have blessing and life.

We can restate Romans 2:2 by filling in Paul’s ellipses as: “For it is not the hearers of the law of YHVH who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law of YHVH who will be justified.”

In Romans 3, Paul is talking about those who are all under sin. They are disobedient to the law of YHVH. According to Moses, if you disobey YHVH’s laws, you’ll have cursing and death. This is also known as the law of sin, or the law of sin and death (because sin leads to death).

We can restate Romans 3:20 by filling in Paul’s ellipses as: “For by works of the law of sin no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law of YHVH comes knowledge of sin.”

We are not supposed to allow sin, as define by the law of YHVH, to reign in our lives.  We are not under the law of sin, but the law of grace.

Paul reminded his readers, “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? (Romans 6:16)”

Based on what Moses told the second generation that came out of Egypt, Romans 6:23 now makes sense when we clarify the word “sin” this way: “For the wages of sin (lawlessness) is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

So what is the purpose of the law of YHVH? There are two purposes.  First, it was a tutor to teach us what is righteous and what is not (Galatians 3:24-25). In other words, it defines righteousness.  It was also to bring us to Messiah so we could be the seed of Abraham, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:25 seems to indicate we are no longer under this tutor.  Is that correct?  I think this verse specifically applies more to Paul’s original readers in Galatia than to us. The reason I say that is because the Jews and many converted Gentiles were raised on the Torah. They knew it well.  For us, the opposite is often true. We either do not know it at all, or we don’t know it as well as we should. We can look at this concept in a reverse-chiastic fashion.

Torah brings people to Messiah.

**People are redeemed by the blood of Messiah and justified by faith in Messiah.

Those justified by faith in Messiah are brought to Torah so they can learn how to live righteously (walk in holiness).

Acts 15:19-21 supports this idea.  Originally, many Gentiles were turning to Messiah that had no knowledge of Torah.  The Jerusalem Council submitted a letter with a judgment to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.  These are the core teachings of Torah found in Leviticus. These things were the major things plaguing the Gentiles.  They could learn the rest of the Torah from what was being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.

Previously, we mentioned two acts of righteousness. The first was believing that God rose Yeshua from the dead. The second was God’s act of redeeming man with the blood of His son. A third act of righteousness would be man’s trusting in the act of God redeeming people from the curse of the law.  Acts of righteousness are not supposed to stop here.  There are many other acts of righteousness we are expected to do.  We can’t know what all of those are unless we study the Torah and begin doing them.

Why should we be concerned with Torah?  Didn’t Yeshua fulfill the law?  Actually, He did NOT fulfill ALL of it yet.  There is much prophecy to be fulfilled when He returns.  Does that shock you?  It shouldn’t.  Everything won’t be fulfilled until heaven and earth pass away.  Those who teach that the law has already been fulfilled or that it is not necessary to do it will be LEAST in the kingdom of God.  See Matthew 5:17-19 if you aren’t sure.

So why should we concerned with Torah? It’s because the final purpose of the law of YHVH is our holiness.  This is the fruit we are supposed to bear to God.  We are not to bear the fruit of wickedness.

Look at the following verses:

Romans 6:19:  “I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.”

Romans 6:21-23: “What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? [My answer: Wickedness] For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Again, this is nothing new. Moses gave them same choice many years ago.

With this in mind, let’s look at Romans 7:4-6 with his ellipses filled in:  “Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law (of sin and death) through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another — to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law (of sin and death) were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. 6 But now we have been delivered from the law (of sin and death), having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.”

Now, we look at Torah, we can agree with Paul and say, “Therefore the law (of YHVH) is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good (Romans 7:12).”

So, if you thought the written law was abolished, you probably don’t even know what it teaches.  You need to be tutored in the written law of YHVH so you know what righteousness really is.  As you learn it, go and do it.

If you’ve taught others that the law of YHVH was abolished, repent; start teaching otherwise.

Do not allow yourself to set your mind on the flesh; that leads to death.  Set your mind on the Spirit; this leads to life and peace. Remember, a mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed it cannot.  Submit to God’s law and live. This is what being led by the Spirit is all about (Romans 8:6-7, 13).

Grace and Mercy in Both Covenants

Today we will see that grace and mercy were both part of the Old Covenant just as it is in the New Covenant.  In addition, we will see that the New Covenant was foreshadowed in the Old. 

In Deuteronomy 9 and 10, Moses reminds the second generation of what happened long ago when he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of stone that had been inscribed with the covenant of God.  These were the words the Lord actually spoke to the children of Israel.  These stone tablets were inscribed by the finger of God and were given to Moses by the Lord after he had been on Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights.

About that time, the people said concerning the golden calf they had made, “Israel! Here is your god, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!” (Ex. 32:4)  The people proclaimed that the next day would be a feast for the Lord.  The next day they began offering sacrifices to this metal image as if it were the Lord.  The Lord told Moses to hurry and return to the people because they had already turned away from the terms of the marriage covenant by making a metal image.

Some would think there was nothing wrong with what the people had done because they were worshipping the Lord the best way they knew how.  The metal image made to represent him was still wrong even though it wasn’t an idol meant to represent another god.  Normally, we assume that God has only forbidden the worship of His creation or images of created things but Deuteronomy 4:15-19 tells us that the Lord did not reveal His form to the Israelites because He didn’t want them to worship an image of Him or worship something that represented His attributes either.  This is why many religious icons are idols.    

Creating a golden calf and referring to it as the Lord had clearly broken their covenant with Him.  When Moses saw this with his own eyes, he took the tablets of the covenant, threw them down, and broke them in the sight of the people so they would understand that they had broken their covenant with the Lord.  Moses knew they had lost God’s grace and needed His mercy.

Moses took their sin, the calf they had made, and burned it up in the fire.  He beat it to pieces and then into fine dust.  He then took the dust and threw it into the stream of water that was coming down the mountain.  According to Exodus 32:20, Moses made the people of Israel drink it.  After Moses scolded Aaron for being part of the whole mess, Moses saw the people were clearly out of control so he called all those who were for the Lord to come to him.   The Levites gathered around him and Moses commanded them to kill their kinsman, friends, and neighbor.  Certainly the ones who died participated in the worship of the golden calf.  The three thousand people who died that day were not shown any mercy.  Moses interceded for the people and asked the Lord to blot him out of His book but the Lord said he would only blot out the names of those who sinned against Him.  The Lord assured Moses the time for the punishment of their sin would come.  Because of the sin with the golden calf, the Lord struck the people with a plague.  There doesn’t seem to be any grace or mercy here but let’s not forget what happened next.

Moses returned to Mount Sinai with two new stone tablets which were like the first ones.  While Moses was on the mountain, the Lord inscribed the same words which were on the first tablets on the second ones.  The Lord proclaimed that He would show both grace and mercy to the people–even during the time period of the Old Covenant!  He promised to forgive their sin, lawlessness, and iniquities but He would always be just.  He wouldn’t cleanse the liable but said their lawlessness would be brought upon their children to the 3rd and 4th generation (Exodus 34:6-7).

The Lord also commanded Moses to take the second set of tablets and place them inside the Ark of the Covenant.  Please don’t miss this.  The second set of tablets which were inscribed with the same covenant and placed inside the Ark of the Covenant foreshadowed the coming of the New Covenant.  This is a picture of what Jeremiah prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31-33:  “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah —  32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”  (NKJV)  

Verse 32 is referring to the first set of tablets which were physically broken whereas verse 33 is a picture of the second set of tablets.  Even though the Lord showed the people mercy and grace after giving them the second set of tablets, they later broke their covenant with the Lord by committing idolatry/spiritual adultery.  The only way, this could be remedied was by ending the Old Covenant and by making a new one; both steps were accomplished by Jesus’ death (Matt. 26:28; Romans 7:1-6). 

Remember, by grace men are saved.  The body of each believer is the temple of the Holy Spirit as a result of the new covenant.  When a person trusts the Lord, the original terms of the marriage covenant are placed in their hearts and minds just as the second set of tablets were placed in the Ark of the Covenant!  This is the location of the throne of God in the life of a believer.  This person experiences the grace and mercy of God in their lives as they express their love and devotion to God by living according to the terms of the covenant.

Now the next time someone tells you there was no mercy or grace under the Old Covenant, be sure to tell them, “Oh, yes there was!  Grace and mercy are part of both covenants.”

The Tabernacle Part 2

The Tabernacle and its courtyard contained various furnishings that Moses was commanded to make according to the designs the Lord gave him.   We discussed the structure of the Tabernacle and Courtyard in the last post.  This time, we shall look at the furniture.

Just as Jesus was the gate of the sheep pen, He’s also the gate of the courtyard through which everyone must come in order to have eternal life. 

People who came to the Tabernacle should have had one goal in mind — to worship the Lord.  Before that could take place, sin against God and trespasses against others had to be atoned, forgiveness received, and restitution made according to God’s commandments.  This always required an offering at the altar of sacrifice.

The Sacrificial Altar was 7 ½ feet long, 7 ½ feet wide, and 4 ½ feet high [5 cubits L X 5 cubits W X 3 cubits H].  It was made of planks, was hollow inside, and had a horn on each of the 4 corners.  This altar was overlaid with bronze instead of gold.  It had a grate of bronze netting with a bronze ring on each corner (4 in all) – placed under rim of altar, half way up the altar.  Pots for the ashes, shovels, basins, meat hooks, and fire pans for the altar were made of bronze.  Poles for the altar were overlaid with bronze, placed into the rings — one pole on each side to carry it.

The Sacrificial Altar was necessary in order to properly lift up offerings to the Lord.  The sin and guilt sacrifices provided atonement and forgiveness for sin and trespasses.  Whole burnt offerings, grain offerings, drink offerings, and peace offerings were primarily offered after these to draw near to the Lord and worship Him.  The symbolism of the offerings was manifested in the work of Christ when He died for us but it was also a picture of what will happen to the righteous and the wicked when the Day of Judgment comes.

A Bronze Laver was also in the courtyard.  It was set on a bronze base between the altar and the Tabernacle of Meeting.  It was made from the bronze mirrors of the women who served at the door of the Tabernacle of Meeting.   The laver was filled with water with which Moses, Aaron, and his sons washed their hands and feet whenever they came near the altar or went into the Tabernacle of Meeting.

I believe the water contained in the bronze laver can be compared to Jesus who is the source of Living Water.  Zechariah 13:1 explains water is necessary to cleanse His people from sin and impurity. 

Christians usually see their position in Christ as secure because of Jesus’ sacrifice and often forget the need to regularly cleanse their hands and feet at the laver to restore fellowship with God that is occasionally broken due to sins and trespasses. 

James 1:23-25 compares the Word of God to a mirror in which we, as believers need to examine ourselves regularly.  When we fail to obey God’s word, we have sinned.  Ephesians 5:26 tells us Jesus gave His life so that we could be sanctified and cleansed with “the washing of the water of the word.”  When we look into the mirror of God’s word, we are often convicted of sins or trespasses.  First John 1:9 encourages us to acknowledge our sins so that God will forgive them and purify us from all unrighteousness.  This is what washing oneself at the laver which was made from bronze mirrors is all about.

Once our fellowship with the Lord and others is restored, we are free to move into the Tent of Meeting where previously only the priests could go because we are members of a kingdom of priests and a holy nation unto God.  The first section of the Tabernacle is the Holy Place where we encounter the menorah.  It was made from a single piece of pure hammered gold.  It had a central shaft with six branches (3 on each side).  Each branch had 3 cups shaped like almond blossoms, each with a ring of outer leaves and petals.  The central shaft had 4 cups shaped like almond blossoms each with a ring of outer leaves and petals.  There was also a ring of outer leaves where each branch joined the central shaft.  Seven lamps were mounted on the menorah that burned pure olive oil.  The accompanying tongs and trays used to service the menorah were made of pure gold too.

Revelation 4:5 shows us that seven Spirits of God were burning before the throne.  This matches the imagery and location of the menorah.

Most of the time, people say the menorah represents Christ who was the light of the world.  They may even associate it with the Holy Spirit because it was fueled by olive oil.

Let’s see if we can glean any other meaning from the menorah. 

Note the description of the menorah and its almond blossoms.  Usually   almond blossoms have 5 petals.  The number 5 represents grace.  The number 3 represents the resurrection or new life of/in Christ.  The number 6 represents man.  Therefore, man can receive new life by God’s grace through faith in Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Together with the Spirit of God, mankind is made complete which is represented by the number 7.

Remember, Aaron had to tend the menorah daily.  The lamps needed to be cleaned, the wicks needed to be changed, and the supply of oil had to be re-filled.  The same can be said of our lives.  Think about and do what needs to be done in your spiritual life each day so you can walk by the power of the Holy Spirit and let your light shine before men.

Isaiah 11:1-2 unveils the menorah in this way, “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. 2 The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.”  NKJV

It is evident from this passage that the Spirit of the Lord (YHWH) is the central shaft with the branches being the other characteristics of the Spirit.  If the menorah were placed on its side, it would be easy to see that the opposite/paired branches correspond to each other like a chiastic structure that points to the central shaft of the Spirit of the Lord.  All of these rested upon Jesus, the Son of David.  Ask God to allow them to rest on you as well.

In addition to the menorah was a table for the Bread of the Presence (Showbread).  The table was 3 feet long, 18 inches wide, and 18 inches high [2 cubits L X 1 cubit W X 1.5 cubit H].  This table was made out of acacia wood and overlaid with gold.  It had a rim around it that was a handbreadth wide with a molding of gold around it.  Four gold rings for the poles were attached to corners near the legs and rim of the table.  Poles of acacia wood covered with gold were placed through these rings and used to carry the table in a manner similar to that of the Ark of the Covenant.  Dishes, pans, bowls, and pitchers of pure gold were made for use with this table.  This implies that there was also a drink offering such as wine to accompany the twelve loaves of bread and frankincense that were placed on the table each Sabbath (Lev. 24:5-9).

Many have tried to understand the purpose of the Table of Showbread.  In Hebrew, showbread is called lechem happaniym which can be translated as the “Bread of the Faces” or “Bread of the Presence.”  The Greek Septuagint uses artous tees protheseoos which is translated as “bread loaves of the place setting.”  Taken together, these translations can give us some understanding of the purpose of this bread. 

First of all, it was a holy offering given to the Lord.  The people from the 12 tribes of Israel gave flour to the priests who used it to bake 12 loaves of bread to place in the presence of the Lord.  They were arranged on the table in two rows with 6 loaves and frankincense in each row.  Even though the bread was put on the place setting of the Lord, He didn’t eat this bread.  The High priest and his sons ate it in a holy place because it was an offering made by fire (Ex. 25:30; Lev. 24:5-9).    

Nonbelievers might say that the bread didn’t magically disappear during the week because God doesn’t exist; therefore the priests ate it for Him.  That’s not what is going on here.  Consider this.  Many people desire to come into God’s presence but can’t due to sin against God, trespasses against others, and the physical limitations between heaven and earth.  The priests were commanded to set this table before the Lord and they obeyed.  Whether they realized it or not, their actions were saying, “Lord, this bread is a holy offering for You.  Come be with us and eat with us.”  Eventually, God overcame man’s limitations and did better than what they pleaded for by sending Jesus, the Bread of Life to physically be in the presence of His people.  During that time, the Son of Man ate and drank with His friends face to face.  Even after Jesus died as an offering for sin and rose from the dead, He appeared to the disciples and asked them, “Have you any food here?”  They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb and He took it and ate in their presence.   This showed that Jesus still intended to fellowship with His people even though He would soon return to heaven (Revelation 3:20-21).  Although Jesus is now in heaven, He accomplished the goal of making it possible for us to come boldly through the veil into the Most Holy Place and one day see Him face to face (Heb. 10:19-23).  Certainly, we’ll eat together at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb at the appointed time.

The last thing in the Holy Place was the Altar of Incense which stood before the veil and the Ark of the Covenant which was on the opposite side of the veil in the Most Holy Place.  The Altar of Incense was sometimes referred to as the Golden Altar because it was made of acacia wood and overlaid with gold.  It measured 7 ½ feet long, 7 ½ feet wide, and 4 ½ feet tall [1 cubit L X 1 cubit W X 2 cubits H].  It had a molding of gold all around it with horns on each of its 4 corners.  There were 2 gold rings, under the molding on both sides (total of 4) through which 2 poles of acacia wood overlaid with gold were positioned.  

Aaron, the High Priest was to burn incense on this altar every morning and at dusk as he tended the lamps of the menorah.  The incense that was burned on this altar was of a particular recipe—equal parts of stacte, onycha, galbanum, and pure frankincense, made according to the art of a perfumer, salted, pure, and holy for the Lord.  No other incense was to be used on this altar.  Anyone who made any like it to smell it was to be cut off from his people.  This altar was not for other kinds of offerings.  Once a year the High Priest made atonement for it with the blood of the bull and the goat on the Day of Atonement to purify it and set it apart from the uncleanness of the people of Israel.

There’s not much the Bible says about the Altar of Incense except that the incense is the prayers of the saints who live throughout the four corners of the earth (Revelation 5:8).  Of all the prayers that have ever been offered, surely Jesus’ prayers were most holy – especially the prayers He offered the night He sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of His betrayal.   Surely this is thematically connected to the Day of Atonement.  Like the incense, Jesus was unique because He was sinless.  After appearing to His disciples over 40 days, Jesus returned to heaven in the clouds in a manner similar to the rising smoke of incense as it was burned many years ago.

On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest could enter past the Altar of Incense and the veil into the Most Holy Place to stand before the Ark of the Covenant.  The ark was 3 ¾ feet long, 2 ¼ feet wide, and 2 ¼ feet high [2.5 cubits L X 1.5 cubits W X 1.5 cubits H].  It was made of acacia wood which the Greek Septuagint calls incorruptible wood.  The ark was overlaid inside and outside with gold and had a molding of gold around the top of it.  Four gold rings were attached to its 4 feet, 2 rings on each side.  Poles of acacia wood were overlaid with gold and passed through the rings so the ark could be carried without touching the ark itself.  These poles were not to be removed.

The cover for the Ark of Covenant was known as the Mercy Seat.  It was 3 ¾ feet long, 2 ¼ feet high [2.5 cubits L X 1.5 cubits H] and made of pure gold.  It had 2 cherubim on it (one cherub at each end) which were one with the cover.  The cherubim faced each other with their wings spread out toward each other and covered the top of the cover.  The Mercy Seat was God’s throne where God met with Moses and His High Priests, from between the two cherubim which were on it.

The Mercy Seat and the Ark of the Covenant are often thought of as God’s portable throne and footstool.  As such they can be compared to heaven and earth (Is. 66:1).  As a single unit, it was both a throne of judgment and grace.  In some ways it was comparable to Ezekiel’s vision of God’s chariot (Ezek. 1:4-28). Finally, it was a copy of what was in heaven (Rev. 11:19).

Most importantly, the Ark of the Covenant portrayed Israel’s salvation and relationship with God.   It contained the Testimony which established the marriage covenant between God and His people.  The ark was made of incorruptible wood which signified Jesus who was sinless.  The molding of gold around the top of the ark could represent Jesus’ kingly crown or kingdom.  The Ark held a jar of manna in the wilderness which depicted Jesus as the source of life. The Ark also contained the rod of Aaron which had been used to perform awesome wonders in Egypt.  This same scepter had budded, blossomed, and brought forth almonds signifying God’s choice concerning Aaron and the house of Levi during rebellious times.  This staff demonstrated the power of the Holy Spirit to perform miracles including resurrection and the authority to rule God’s kingdom.

Now that we’ve looked at the furniture of the Tabernacle, we should regularly:

  • Remember to approach God with praise and thanksgiving for His grace and mercy.
  • Confess our sins and trespasses and make any necessary restitution to others so we can be cleansed. 
  • Offer our entire lives to Him in worship. 
  • Walk in the Spirit and not give in to the desires of the flesh. 
  • Eat the Lord’s Supper, remembering His death for us and our marriage covenant with Him until He returns. 
  • Offer our petitions to the Lord including intercession for others. 
  • Remember that one day we will stand before His throne face to face. 

The Dispensation of Grace

I often hear people talk about grace.  They say that now is “the dispensation of grace” and because of that we are not “under the law.”  Although what is being said is true, I cringe because I know they don’t understand it the way I do based on other things they say.  In fact, I’ve heard this mentioned several times recently by different groups of people so I thought I’d give my understanding of the subject. 

The phrase “dispensation of grace” comes from Ephesians 3:2.  Most use this phrase as if it were referring to an era of grace that formerly never existed.  The word “dispensation” means “the act of dispensing.”  Some versions use the words administration or stewardship instead of dispensation.

Paul was telling the Ephesian Gentiles that God gave him grace to dispense or pass on to them.  Paul explained that a mystery had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit.  This mystery is that the Gentiles were to also experience God’s grace and to be able to become joint-heirs with the Jews.   This was God’s plan all along.  We have seen snapshots of it in the Old Testament but may have missed its significance.  According to Paul, it was time for God to begin bringing His mysterious plan into its fullness. Despite Paul’s past and horrible treatment of the Jewish people who were coming to faith in Christ, God showed grace to Paul so that this same grace could be passed on to the Gentiles through Paul’s preaching.  

Many times when people hear the phrase “dispensation of grace,” they assume that this is only a New Testament concept and that God never showed or dispensed grace to the people of the Old Testament.  This idea couldn’t be further from the truth.  God extended grace to people throughout the entire Bible.  Are you shocked to read this?  Most would be but please give me a chance to explain further.

Most Christians are familiar with Ephesians 2:8-9:  “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”  [NKJV]

The Greek word for grace in this verse is “chariti” which is the dative case (used as indirect object) of “charis” (NT: 5485).  “Charin” (NT: 5484) is the accusative case (used as direct object) of “charis.”  Charin is found in the Greek Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament) 69 times and it always refers to the grace God extended to man or the grace man extended to other men. If you read a large portion of these verses, it is clear that this particular word for grace usually meant favor.

What complicates the study and understanding of grace is that English Bible translators have translated other Greek words as grace, kindness, mercy, and goodness interchangeably.  This really causes confusion for someone trying to do a word study on “grace” using only a regular Strong’s Concordance.  It is easier to use an Englishman’s Concordance once you have the correct Strong’s number from Ephesians 2:8-9 or to use a Strong’s Complete Word Study Concordance.  It is also important to use an interlinear version of the Greek Septuagint in order to see the continuity of Scripture. 

I’ll describe the process of how to do this in order to equip you to be able to do it for yourself.  It’s much easier to use a Bible Software program but the task can still be accomplished with a little more effort by using the proper reference books. 

  1. Look up Ephesians 2:8 in an interlinear Greek New Testament. 
  2. You can see that the Greek word for grace is chariti (dative case) with Strong’s number NT: 5485.  Depending on how your software works, you can continue by double-clicking on 5485, it will take you to the definition and nominative case of that word in the Strong’s concordance.
  3. If we scan an interlinear Greek Septuagint for NT: 5485, we discover it’s not there but charin (NT: 5454) which is the accusative case (direct object) of charis is there.  I found charin by arrowing up in Strong’s concordance.   [I do not have the Greek Septuagint as part of my software program and have to look in a separate pdf file.]
  4. By looking up verses where charin is used in the Greek Septuagint and looking for those in the Hebrew Interlinear Bible, we see that chen (OT: 2580) is the Hebrew equivalent of charis.  It means favor.  
  5. Don’t always be too quick to accept a Strong’s definition.  I have learned through experience that you can’t always accept all of Strong’s definitions and that it’s sometimes important to confirm through context.  Sometimes we also need to leave cute acronyms like “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense” behind to properly understand words found in Scripture.  Acronyms  are not always correct and often keep us from seeing the continuity in Scripture.  This is very true of grace.
  6. We can then use an Englishman’s Concordance for chen (OT: 2580) to find that Noah, Moses, and others experienced the same favor or grace that we experienced upon salvation despite the sins and foolishness they committed. 

Now let’s look at the following verses to see how chen was used:

  • Genesis 6:8 – But Noah found grace [chen] in the eyes of the Lord. (KJV)
  • Exodus 33:13 – Now therefore, I [Moses] pray thee, if I have found grace [chen] in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace [chen] in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people.  (KJV)
  • Psalms 84:11  – For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace [chen] and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. (KJV)
  • Proverbs 3:34  – Surely he [the Lord] scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace [chen] unto the lowly. (KJV)
  • Jeremiah 31:2  – Thus saith the Lord, The people which were left of the sword found grace [chen] in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest. (KJV)

These verses show us that people in the Old Testament received grace (favor) because of their faith in God and because of their obedience.  Am I saying they earned God’s favor or salvation?  NO.  I’m saying that even though they weren’t perfect, God was pleased with their obedience and because of that He showed them His favor.  We’re not perfect, yet we can even find favor in the eyes of men.  Aren’t you glad that we can even find favor in the eyes of God? 

What else did these people who experienced God’s grace have in common with believers today? 

As I see it, they did two other things:

  • From the time of Adam to the time of Christ’s death and resurrection, they trusted that their sins and trespasses were covered by the blood of sin and trespass offerings.  Since Christ’s death and resurrection, Christians have trusted in the blood atonement of Christ which was foreshadowed in the original offerings.
  • They also have showed love for God by obeying His commands.

God had another role in the process of dispensing grace.  According to the Jewish wedding traditions, God chose the Bride of Christ before He extended His grace to her.  Even if we don’t fully understand this, we must still accept it because it is a result of God’s choice and favor that we are saved today.  It is obvious that God saw something in His choice that pleased Him. 

Once we accept the terms of God’s marriage covenant with Jesus, we are no longer under the curse of the law which is the second death.  This is in line with the pattern of the sacrifices:  the wicked will burn in the lake of fire while God’s people will be plucked from the fire.  All the other curses of the law still apply in order to discipline us when we go astray and to bring us back to the terms of the marriage agreement. 

Remember, the law itself is not a curse.  It is the marriage covenant!  Even the apostle Paul said the Torah was holy and good so let’s understand it for what it is (Romans 7:12). 

Does this make sense to you?