Thursday, June 22, 2017

Amazing Details by Design

Goats, Stone, Billy Goat, Nature

Sometimes I am amazed at how detailed God's word is ... and how no matter how much we study it, no matter how much we learn - the bottom line is there is so  much more to discover !
The treasure of God's word, buried in the pages of scripture - what a gift God has given us.

I learned something new this week ..  something I find fascinating.

Before I share my new knowledge ... I'll give you some background information.

In ancient Israel  there were  two goats that played an important role in a yearly ceremony.
We read about them in Leviticus 16.

This is their story.

The Day of Atonement was a very special day on Israel's calendar.  It came once a year, and it was the day the High Priest went into the Holy place to make atonement for the people.
On that day Aaron, the High Priest, was commanded to select two goats . By lot, Aaron, then choose which one would be 'for the Lord'  and which one would be 'the scapegoat'.

The goat 'for the Lord' was sacrificed as the sin offering for the people, and it's blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat in the Holy place.  Atonement was thus made for the people.
Then Aaron went out of the holy place and placing his hands on the scapegoat confessed over it all the iniquity of the people.   This goat was then sent away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. We read in verse 22, "The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities ... "   Doesn't that sound familiarly like Isa_53:6  which reads.... "All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. "

We have all heard how the two goats together give us a picture  of Jesus' death and Resurrection.  Though He died, yet He was alive!

When the man who took the goat away came back he needed to "wash his clothes and bathe his body".  When Jesus spoke to Mary outside the tomb, He warned her not to touch Him because He had not yet ascended to His Father. (Luke 20:17)  Could it have been that He had not yet been 'cleansed' of the iniquity He carried?  We  have a glimpse of what happened what Jesus did go to the Father in Zechariah 3:4,5, where we see a foreshadowing of Jesus standing, with the iniquity garments upon Him ... and then they are removed and he is given 'rich robes' ...

The goats are such a great  foreshadowing, pointing to what the coming Messiah would do.

But then it gets even more fascinating ...

The two goats represented the 'atonement' that happened between God and His people ...
 In Hebrew the word for sacrifice is stronger than what our English word suggests. In Hebrew the word for sacrifice is also the 'sin' ... So the sacrifice becomes the sin or sinner ...  the 'sin' is atoned for .. and then the atoned one becomes one with the one who did the atoning and he is free.

Flash forward to the trial of Jesus...  we have two who stand condemned to die.
Barabbas, a sinner,  and Jesus, the Righteous One ...   A lot is about to be cast - which one will live, which one will die.
All of creation should have been holding its breath.  If Barabbas had been chosen, then all mankind would have died with him, condemned sinners ... forever.
But if Jesus was chosen , then He was the Perfect Sacrifice to die for the sinner ... and the sinner atoned for could become one with Him ... taking on His righteousness.

The two goats chosen for the Day of Atonement had to be 'the same' .
Did you know that Barabbas and Jesus were also the same?
Bar means 'son' ... 'abba' means father ... Barabbas' first name was Jesus (check the margin notes of your bible)  
so Barabbas was      Jesus, son of the father ...
and we all know ...  Jesus, Son of the Father.
Co-incidence??  hardly!
Are you not thankful the lot fell to the One who could set us free?  The One that could cover us with His righteousness in exchange for our sin?

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Ice Storm and Storms of Life

We had an unusually cold winter this year, lots of snow and one very severe ice storm.
Covered with a coat of ice  our world was transformed into a jewel studded wonderland.
Beautiful as it was to see, when the ice melted we saw the incredible power it had to leave damage in its wake.
Trees everywhere  were split down the middle, branches and limbs broken off, some trees dead on the ground.
I was sad to see how many trees  were lost or suffered extensive damage but then I noticed something that caught my attention.   Not EVERY tree suffered damage - two trees could be standing side by side - one damaged , the other standing strong, having come through the storm untouched.

I saw the spiritual lesson pictured in the drama of the storm.

Before the ice storm all the trees looked healthy and strong. It would have been impossible to tell which would be vulnerable to the onslaught coming against them.

So also, as believers, we can all look strong and full of faith on the outside, but a storm of life will show how strong our faith really is.
It is when the difficult times come, those unexpected seasons of life that hit us in our most vulnerable places - that is when it is revealed what we are really made of.
Is our faith only lip-surface?  Are we only strong in the sunshine of life? Do we stand only as long as we are surrounded by the securities we love and lean on?

When suddenly our faith is tested, are we completely shattered?  Do hard times break our limbs of faith and cause us to doubt?  Are we so distraught that we lose all spiritual life?

There was one tree that taught me the best lesson.
It was one of our own trees that stands in our back yard. A tall white birch tree, maybe thirty feet tall.  Looking out of our kitchen window the morning after the storm,  my husband called me to come look.  This birch tree was bent over double with the weight of ice clinging to it. My husband commented, "I guess we lost that tree, there is no way it can recover."
But, lo and behold, when the ice melted, the birch tree stood back up, as straight and tall as it was before!  It is pictured below, the tallest tree in the middle of the photo. (I'm sorry I don't have a photo of it doubled over)

I smiled when I saw the tree standing up once again, and thought, I want to be like that tree !
A verse came to mind, the words of Paul from II Corinthians 4:8,9.
"We are hard pressed on every side ---   yet are not crushed; 
we are perplexed  ----- but not in despair.
persecuted ---- but not forsaken 
struck down --  BUT NOT DESTROYED!"

When we are tempted, when we are tested, when we are tried, may we all be like my birch tree. 
May we  courageously say with Paul...  'we may be struck down, but not destroyed'. 
In Christ , though we are weak, we are strong.
"Let us put on the whole armor of God, and so be able to stand against anything that comes against us."
(my paraphrase Eph. 6:11) 

The storm WILL pass , the Lord WILL take us through ... will we then be standing upright, strong in our faith?

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Great Artist

Yesterday we spent some very enjoyable hours with our grand girls at the 
Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver. 
I am posting some of our photos to give glory to our God who filled our earth with so many reasons to be awed at the beauty created by a Mind so infinitely greater than ours. 
Scroll through these photos as an act of worship to our God of Wonder. 
"Oh that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! 
Let them exalt Him.... !" 
 Psalm 107:31,32a

Hmmmm..... wonder if that would work for my nest ! 

      Worth a try ...

Its hard to see but there is a bird inside the nest trying to pull the plant into his nest !

 Every spring this bird loses his long tail, and then grows it again.

 "Just sayin' ......"

"It was just Christmas, wasn't it ?"

"Green with envy ... nah ... just like the color."

"Thought I'd dress up for the photo-op."

"Ain't I the brightest bird out on a limb !"

"Do you like my new eye liner?|"

Latest designer colors....  wouldn't these colors make the prettiest room decor?

"All these feathers make me itchy ... uggg"

"There .. that feels a little better .... "

"Ok.... I'm all feathered down again !!"
This bird is apparently the 'naughty' boy ....  and he speaks 40 phrases.
I was sorry he refused to converse with us! 

Perhaps the black-headed is the male? the red-headed the female?

 Like my new fascinator?

And a few of the lovely plants creating a Paradise for the birds