Hebrews Lesson 131 July 10, 2008
NKJ Psalm 119:9 How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.
If you want to open your Bibles, you can open them to the 25th chapter of Exodus. While you are turning there (We'll be in Exodus 25:31), a couple of emails came into me just prior to Bible class that I thought would be of some interest.
Some of you may have heard this. I briefly saw something about this running across the scroll at the bottom of the news when I was down at the gym this afternoon. A Michigan man is seeking $70 million from two Christian publishers for emotional distress and mental instability he received during the past 20 years from versions of the Bible that refer to homosexuality as a sin.
Last night Phil Gramm said in an interview that we're turning into a nation of a bunch of whiners because people are whining like there's a recession when technically there isn't one. There are always these ups and downs in the economy. Everybody's groaning and moaning about different things and if you're hurt by it of course you feel bad. At different times we've all gone through that. But we've become such a self-absorbed people that when we face adversity or when anybody says something that disagrees with what we want to be true, then we take offense and want to go straighten everybody out.
Somebody was saying before Bible class that they had read something in a cartoon strip referring to some character as being a diagonal person in a parallel world. Think about it. Unbelievers are diagonal people in a parallel world created by God and they want everybody else to become diagonal and they want to legislate against anyone saying that it's a parallel world. Every time anybody even mentions that there is a God and that there are absolutes and there are standards, they go berserk.
That's what this exemplifies. This man is suing Zondervan Publishing Company and Thomas Nelson Publishing because he claims that they deliberately caused homosexuals to suffer by misinterpretation of the Bible. He's seeking $60 million from Zondervan and $10 million from Thomas Nelson. So he's got these two separate lawsuits. Fortunately at the end of the article the U. S. District Judge who will hear the case against Thomas Nelson says that he has some genuine concerns about the nature and efficacy of his claims.
We're living in a world where this kind of thing is being taken seriously by people who sit on judicial benches. That is cause for great concern. (I wonder what the political persuasion of those people is.)
Then in another email this comes - ultimately has its source from the American Center for Law and Justice which is the organization. (I'm trying to find the guy's name now – Jay Sekulow.) He says that Christians are under attack. In Iran a couple is tortured for reading the Bible. Two men are tried and convicted for possessing Christian books in Algeria and more and more there are people who are trying to do the same kind of thing here. He goes on to explain some of these different anti-Christian measures that are being enforced in various Islamic countries.
Then he states that one of the largest organizations inside the United Nations has made a move. The organization of the Islamic Conference at the UN is pushing a dangerous resolution making speaking out against Islam including proclamation of Christianity an international crime. (Won't that be fun? I am convinced I'll be in jail before I'm dead.) It is an anti-Christian measure and it clearly endorses what's taking place in many Muslim countries where those who even speak out about Islam are severely punished with imprisonment and even death.
So just once again we're living in a world that is becoming more and more hostile to Christianity in general and biblical Christianity specifically. So we need to be in a lot of prayer especially for the missionaries that are in so many of these countries, especially the ones who are outside the Republic of Texas. (Y'all can laugh!)
Okay, we're in Exodus 25 and we're continuing our study of the Tabernacle. We have the diagram up on the screen to remind you of the layout of the Tabernacle. The outer courtyard is surrounded by a series of curtains that has only one entrance emphasizing that there's only one way to God. God has the right as God, as the creator of all things in the heavens and in the earth and in the seas - He has the right to determine what the circumstances are and how somebody can come into His presence. Every single unbeliever that you know (especially this individual who's got this silly lawsuit) wants to legislate how people treat them. Yet they don't want to allow God to lay down regulations as to how people come into His presence. He has to go along with what everybody else thinks. So God emphasizes again and again this principle of exclusivity that just really irritates and antagonizes unbelievers.
Only one way to God...first thing that happens when a priest would go into the Tabernacle…as we saw last time he goes to the laver (a bronze laver) made out of the mirrors that the ladies had taken out of Egypt and taken from the aristocracy in Egypt. That was used as a - it looked like a mirror. You would look into it. It would be a reflection upon yourself. The whole picture there is of cleansing and confession of sin (self examination terminology) that is picked up in the New Testament emphasizing that every single time a person is going to come into the presence of God; he must be cleansed of sin. It's not just a matter of having been saved, but after salvation there's ongoing sin in the life that renders us unclean and there has to be a cleansing. So that comes through the use of I John 1:9 in the confession of sin.
Once the priest did that and every time the priest came into the Tabernacle he had to on penalty of death - God was serious about this. And after he washed his hands and his feet… he was only washed - as we saw last time he was washed completely or bathed when he was ordained we might say or set apart (using the Hebrew word sanctify, consecrated, set apart) picturing that positional sanctification at the beginning of his ministry. But after that every other time He came into the Tabernacle or the Temple he had to wash his hands and his feet picturing partial cleansing, the ongoing cleansing.
This is the same imagery that Jesus used when he was talking to Peter and the disciples in the Upper Room after the Passover dinner as he washed their feet and Peter said:
NKJ John 13:8 Peter said to Him, "You shall never wash my feet!" Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me."
That Greek word for "part" doesn't mean quite what we think it means. Most of us hear the word part and we think of something in a play or a television show or a movie or a film. Someone can have a part or a role to play, but that's not what that word meros means. It is a word that's used in wills and testaments indicating the portion of an inheritance. So what Jesus is saying basically to Peter is that if you don't confess your sins on a regular basis so you're in fellowship and walking by the Spirit; then you're not going to produce any divine good and therefore there won't be any inheritance for you when you get into heaven. I Corinthians 3:15 and following talks about the fact that at the Judgment Seat of Christ all of our works - everything that we do is burned. That which has eternal value, divine good pictured as gold, silver and precious stones endures the heat. All that is dross (all that is human good is just a product of the flesh) is burned up and destroyed. They're going to be many Christians who never understood the dynamics of the Christian life, never were in fellowship, thought that the Christian life was based on the Law, was based on works, was based on man's own personal effort; and so when they come to the Judgment Seat of Christ there's not going to be anything there. But they will be saved.
Verse 15 says they will be saved yet as through fire.
NKJ 1 Corinthians 3:15 If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
So they enter into heaven, but they don't have anything that is rewardable and they don't have any capacity really for where they are.
They're going to be the people who said, "You know, I'm just glad I'm there and it didn't really matter where I was once I got there."
…very superficial, shallow mentality.
So the cleansing is important in our day-to-day walk with the Lord. After the priest came in and washed his hands and his feet, then he would go to the brazen altar, which is the picture of the judgment of sin. The main idea for teaching on the brazen altar is the idea of substitution. There were 5 different sacrifices and offerings there that we have looked at. Not all of them pictured substitution. The fellowship offering did not picture substitution. The others did because of the nature of the person coming in, putting his hands on the lamb or the goat or the pigeon or the bullock. That transfer of sins - so substitution was there.
Now we come to the next part of the Tabernacle which is the inner sanctum called the Holy Place. It's comprised of two compartments. The outer compartment is usually referred to a just the Holy Place. The entire structure there is actually the Tabernacle itself. This is the place where God dwelt. It's not the outer courtyard. It's the Tabernacle itself. In the Greek two different words are used to describe the Temple as a whole and then the Temple in terms of the inner sanctum, the dwelling place itself comprised of the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies.
The Holy Place overall is 30 feet long and 15 feet wide. The Holy of Holies is within that – on the back side of that and is 15 feet square I believe. The overall length of the Holy Place is 20 cubits which is 30 feet by 15 feet and the Holy Place is in the back which is 15 feet square. So the overall length is going to be 45 feet and the width is about 15 feet.
I have another picture here… shifting back and forth between some photos and the PowerPoint so we'll see how that comes across. There's an artist's depiction of the Tabernacle in the wilderness and you see the cloud, the white cloud over the Tabernacle itself. You see the black smoke ascending from the brazen altar. This gives us some idea of what it looked like. You see the entry way. You see the blue and the gold and the red clothe here which is typical.
Now we want to talk tonight…we're going to begin to talk about the Tabernacle itself, the inner sanctum and its construction.
If you look at Exodus 26 – Exodus 26, we'll begin to look at the details of its structure. First of all it begins to… God begins to give instructions as to how the outer covering – what the outer covering would be like. There were two coverings. The inner covering was made up of curtains of fine linen. This is a very expensive linen that came from Egypt. It represents the value of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Not every detail in the Tabernacle pictures something about the Lord Jesus Christ, but most of the major features depict something about the Lord Jesus Christ. The entirety of the Tabernacle is a picture of and depicts different elements of the Lord's person and His work. So inside there are curtains of fine linen. They are embroidered with figures of the cherubim. This is mentioned down in verse 31 to 33.
So we read at the beginning:
NKJ Exodus 26:1 "Moreover you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine woven linen and blue, purple, and scarlet thread; with artistic designs of cherubim you shall weave them.
This emphasizes again – the blue represents heaven, the dwelling place of God. The purple represents the royalty. This is a theocracy. This is where God dwells as the King of the Nation. The scarlet is a depiction of the blood sacrifice necessary, the substitutionary atonement necessary to cover sin. It has artistic designs of cherubim that are woven in them. So when the priest is inside looking up, he sees this linen fabric woven with these three different colors of threads and in them there are woven the images of the cherubim. The cherubim depict the holiness and righteousness of God. So the entirety of the Tabernacle (and the Temple later on) will emphasize the holiness (the righteousness and the justice) of God.
Then there are descriptions given about just how large each curtain will be.
NKJ Exodus 26:2 "The length of each curtain shall be twenty-eight cubits, and the width of each curtain four cubits.
A cubit is approximately 18 inches so you can just factor that out in terms of their general length. So if a curtain is 28 cubits just add 14 to that so it's about 42 feet and the width was 4 cubits or 6 feet.
And every one of the curtains shall have the same measurements.
NKJ Exodus 26:3 "Five curtains shall be coupled to one another, and the other five curtains shall be coupled to one another.
And then they would be laid over the top. Then there are descriptions.
NKJ Exodus 26:4 "And you shall make loops of blue yarn on the edge of the curtain on the selvedge of one set, and likewise you shall do on the outer edge of the other curtain of the second set.
NKJ Exodus 26:5 "Fifty loops you shall make in the one curtain, and fifty loops you shall make on the edge of the curtain that is on the end of the second set, that the loops may be clasped to one another.
NKJ Exodus 26:6 "And you shall make fifty clasps of gold, and couple the curtains together with the clasps, so that it may be one tabernacle.
So each of these curtains are then connected together.
The second layer of curtains is made out of goat hair. The goats of course were one of the animals for sacrifice, but it has a practical purpose as well because it would also help waterproof the Tabernacle to protect it, to cover it.
So the goat hair…and the goat hair is black. Goats in Israel that you see are black not white so this is a dark covering. Again there are 11 curtains each one approximately 45 feet by 6 feet. The eleven curtains, 5 on each side and then the 6th (the extra one, the 11th one actually; 5 on one side 6 on the other) …the 6th curtain comes around at the front so there is an overlap. Then there's an overlap in the back mentioned in verse 12. This allows for complete enclosure of the Tabernacle itself. The covering over the top – you have the linen and then the goat's hair. Then the next covering is rams' skins dyed red, a picture of the blood atonement again, the ram skin being a picture of the sacrifice. We talk about the sacrifice of a ram. What should come to mind is the sacrifice of Isaac and God providing a ram as a substitute at the last minute so that Isaac does not have to die. The ram is provided. This depicts God's grace provision for our salvation.
The next layer is porpoise skins or badger skins. There's a lot of debate in the literature (Hebrew literature) on just what that would be; but again it provided something of a protection, a waterproofing on the outer level.
The inside of the Tabernacle, inside the cloth coverings, there was a wooden wall made of boards of acacia wood that are overlaid with gold. Every time we have this combination of acacia wood (which is an extremely dense wood, a hardwood that is not subject to any sort of rot), that's a picture of the impeccability of the Lord Jesus Christ in His humanity - that there was no sin there. Then it is covered with gold, which is a picture of His deity. So you have the boards of acacia wood that are 15 feet high and 28 inches wide. Each one of them has two tenons that fit together into the other.
Most people don't know what a tenon is so I got some diagrams to put here. This is like a dovetail when you see...sometimes when you look at a drawer at the back where the sides of the drawer join in a dovetail with the back of the drawer. This is how you join two pieces of wood together. The tenon is the piece that sticks out and then is joined into an opening on the inside. So this is described down in verses 16, 17 and 18 on the description of the boards.
NKJ Exodus 26:16 "Ten cubits shall be the length of a board, and a cubit and a half shall be the width of each board.
17 "Two tenons shall be in each board for binding one to another. Thus you shall make for all the boards of the tabernacle.
18 "And you shall make the boards for the tabernacle, twenty boards for the south side.
19 "You shall make forty sockets of silver under the twenty boards: two sockets under each of the boards for its two tenons.
It goes on to explain all of the details there. All of this shows the concern God has that everything is structured and it's going to hold up and it's going to be well put together, well-designed.
Each board stands upright and sits in a socket. This was a silver base for each board. Then each board was joined one to another. You had 20 boards on each side and six boards across the back or the rear of the Tabernacle. All of the boards are overlaid with gold.
Then you have an entry screen that was set on the exterior of the Tabernacle itself. Inside there's a veil, but on the outside there was a screen that was made. Verses 36 and 37 describe this.
NKJ Exodus 26:36 " You shall make a screen for the door of the tabernacle, woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen, made by a weaver.
NKJ Exodus 26:37 "And you shall make for the screen five pillars of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold; their hooks shall be of gold, and you shall cast five sockets of bronze for them.
So there's a little more solid screen set across the front. This would allow the priest to move in and out, but no one could see into the Tabernacle itself.
Now that's the structure of the Holy Place as we get into it.
The next thing is to go inside and see what is inside. There are three articles of furniture inside the first room. As you entered, on the left which would be the south side, you have the golden lampstand. On the far side you have opposite the entryway and before you go into the veil to the Holy of Holies, you have the altar of incense. Then on the right side there's the table of showbread. Each of these depicts something about the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. The candlestick (the candelabra) depicts Christ as the light of the world. The altar of incense pictures prayer and depicts the Lord Jesus Christ in His ministry as our intercessor always praying for us. Then the table of showbread is designed to depict the fact that Jesus is the bread of life. So every facet here depicts something significant about the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. The description for the lampstand is given beginning in verse 31 – back up to the previous chapter.
NKJ Exodus 25:31 " You shall also make a lampstand of pure gold; the lampstand shall be of hammered work. Its shaft, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs, and flowers shall be of one piece.
So the candelabra weighed one talent of pure gold. Now one talent of gold is twice as heavy as a talent of silver. So a talent of pure gold at that time weighed approximately 190 pounds avoirdupois - that's 16 ounces to the pound. So that would be about 3,040 ounces which at the price of $900 and ounce (I didn't check the price of gold today, but it's been hovering just above $900 an ounce.) that comes to a little over $2.7 million dollars. The candelabras they built later in the Solomonic Temple and in the Herodian Temple were much, much larger than the original one that was in the Tabernacle. They have completed all of this furniture at the Temple Institute in Israel where they're redesigning everything for the next Temple.
So every year everybody gets a kick out of going to the temple store where you can order models. In fact this year we finally brought back – it's like puzzle where the kids in prep school can put the Temple together and built it and learn all about it. But they have a sign in the front for the temple store (It's www.templestore.com if you want to go there), but it says "Buy your temple now before the third temple is built and the prices go up."
As we look at what God teaches about this, let me give you a picture. I have a couple of different pictures here that are current. This is a model of the actual candlestick (candelabra) that has been completed for a future temple, for the next temple. This is another artist's depiction of the candelabra itself. As we read the description I'm going to leave that up on the screen so that you can see how the written description matches its depiction. The lampstand is a hammered work. It's one piece. It's gold once again depicting the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. It's of one piece indicating the unity of His person and that God of course is one indicating a unity, not a singularity. The lampstand is a hammered work - its shaft, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs. Notice it's not just functional; it is also artistically beautiful.
God is the most beautiful, most tremendous artist that's ever been. Look at the world around us. So often we get consumed with things that are functional or pragmatic and forget to make them beautiful as well. So when we look at everything that's in the Tabernacle, it was not only functional; it not only depicted the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ; but it was aesthetically beautiful. It was gorgeous. It was designed by men who were given the Holy Spirit. Aholiab and Bezalel were given the Holy Spirit to give them skill at making these things. So God cares about how well we do things.
NKJ Exodus 25:32 "And six branches shall come out of its sides: three branches of the lampstand out of one side, and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side.
33 "Three bowls shall be made like almond blossoms on one branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower, and three bowls made like almond blossoms on the other branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower -- and so for the six branches that come out of the lampstand.
34 "On the lampstand itself four bowls shall be made like almond blossoms, each with its ornamental knob and flower.
35 "And there shall be a knob under the first two branches of the same, a knob under the second two branches of the same, and a knob under the third two branches of the same, according to the six branches that extend from the lampstand.
In the upper area you would have a bowl where the oil would be poured. Only the finest of olive oil could be used; otherwise you would be producing a lot of black smoke and putting a carbon deposit on the inside of the fine linen inside the Tabernacle.
So this was something that the priest had to take care of. It was a lot of work to be a priest. They would have to take care of this constantly trimming it, measuring it, making sure the oil was there because the light was never supposed to go out. There is some discussion about how this operated because of a couple of different passages in Scripture. So let me show you those very briefly.
NKJ Exodus 27:20 " And you shall command the children of Israel that they bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light,
It would be extra virgin olive oil.
to cause the lamp to burn continually.
The light as we'll see, the light represents two things in relationship to God. One has to do with revelation; the other has to do with holiness – with His righteousness. Both of those come together because when God reveals Himself, what comes with that is a realization of His righteousness and holiness.
It is to burn continually
Then in Leviticus 24:2:
NKJ Leviticus 24:2 "Command the children of Israel that they bring to you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to make the lamps burn continually.
But then we come to 1 Samuel 3:3 and Samuel is a young boy. He is in the Tabernacle sleeping and the text says:
NKJ 1 Samuel 3:3 and before the lamp of God went out
Wait a minute! I thought it was supposed to burn continually. This says the lamp had not yet gone out and Samuel was lying down.
in the tabernacle of the LORD where the ark of God was, and while Samuel was lying down,
So he's sleeping in there. The text says it's early because the lamp hadn't gone out yet.
Remember this is in the period of the Judges when everyone is doing right in their own eyes and the high priest is Eli and his two sons Hophni and Phinehas are abusing everything - the people, the Temple, and all of their priestly privileges. So this shows that things have become so lax that they weren't keeping the lampstand lit inside the Temple. That's how to explain the discrepancy that it should have been lit continuously.
As we've read in chapter 25, the lampstand is made of pure gold. This depicts the Lord Jesus Christ as the light of the world.
Now when we look at Jesus Christ as the light of the world, we are reminded that there is one particular gospel that emphasizes this, emphasizes the whole doctrine of light and that is the Gospel of John.
So I want you to turn with me to the first chapter of John - the first chapter of John. We will begin to look at how light is used in the Gospel of John. To understand this whole depiction of light in John and when Jesus says that He is the light of the world, you have to understand the background that we get from the golden lampstand.
John 1:1 starts off emphasizing the eternality and the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. To get the context I'm going to start in verse 1.
NKJ John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Now just a couple of notes here for those of you who haven't gone through the Gospel of John study with me. "In the beginning" is translated correctly. It is the Greek phrase en arche and it is standard procedure in Greek that when you have certain nouns that have something about them that makes the noun inherently definite that the preposition replaces a definite article. So it is not talking about in a beginning, but in the beginning. Every time you have the word arche used in the New Testament with a preposition, there's no article. It always has just the preposition because the concept of beginning is definite. There's only one beginning. It's the first thing. That makes it inherently definite.
In British English they have more nouns that are inherently definite than we have in American English. You will hear the British talk about going to university – not the university. We put the definite article in there. But they'll just say they are going to university or to hospital because the noun is in and of itself inherently definite. It doesn't need a definite article to make it definite. So we have the phrase en arche which is a direct translation of the parallel in the Hebrew that we have in Genesis 1:1 which is bereshith. You have the preposition be which means in and reshith which means beginning. There's no article there either. So the idea though is it is the beginning.
Whenever creation began we have an imperfect tense of the verb meaning that the Word already was. The imperfect tense emphasizes continual action in past tense. The aorist tense summarizes it like a picture. The difference between the imperfect tense and the aorist tense (if you want to get it real simple) is the aorist tense is like a snapshot and the imperfect tense is like a video. It's progressive. The aorist summarizes it. It doesn't tell you anything about the action; it just takes a snapshot of it. So when we have the phrase here "in the beginning was the Word", to expand the translation we would say "at the time that creation began the Word already was continually existing." The emphasis is therefore on His eternality.
"And the Word was." Again you have that same verb there in the imperfect tense indicating continual existence in past time. "The Word was with God."
And then the last phrase – "and the Word was God". Every now and then you'll have somebody knock on your door. They have a New World Bible - a New World Translation. (I wonder how that translates homosexual. Anyway, maybe the Jehovah Witnesses will get sued too. Wouldn't that be fun?)
They'll come up and they'll say, "We believe Jesus was a god, but He isn't the God. He's not Jehovah."
They go to this verse and they try to show that because theos (the word for God) doesn't have a definite article in the Greek…excuse me, I misspoke. The Greek doesn't have a definite article. It just has an article because it doesn't have an indefinite article. So you just speak about it having an article. Because it doesn't have an article, they want to translate that the same way you would translate the English word that doesn't have an article as if it's indefinite. The word was a god. But in Greek you have first of all certain nouns like God which are inherently definite.
The second thing you have is that in this kind of construction where you have two nouns linked with an equative verb (and that's what the "to be" verb is) ….when you say the word was God you can reverse the nouns on each side of the "was" and God was the Word. The Word equals God. God equals the Word. It's called an equative verb. Whenever you have an equative verb and you have a predicate adjective on the other side of the verb, you have to decide in Greek - how are you going to show which is the subject and which is the predicate adjective or predicate nominative. The way you do that is with the article. The noun that has the article is the subject; the other one isn't. So it wouldn't make sense to put an article with God (with theos) because the Word has to have the article to indicate that's the subject of the clause. So it only makes sense if you understand Greek - that "the Word was God" indicating absolute and full deity. So John goes on to say:
NKJ John 1:2 He was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
So "In Him" – and that's the verse we want to focus on here. In Him was life. Again as we look at this, the word "was" is an imperfect tense just as it has been all the way through this section, indicating continual action that in Him there always was life. Life itself is integral to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ who is referred to here by the title of Logos. It is that life (the life of the Lord Jesus Christ) that is the light of men.
The use of the word light here emphasizes revelation. It is the primary function of the Second Person of the Trinity to reveal God to us. We see that in this very passage. So what we see in verse 5 is the light that is the Logos now is identified as the light.
NKJ John 1:5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
So it is the grace of God to continuously reveal Himself to us and that's the primary emphasis of the symbol of light. Light shines in the darkness and the darkness is a result of sin. The darkness did not comprehend it.
This is a historical summary by John that he's emphasizing that when the light came to shine in the darkness in Israel, they did not understand who He was. Now that's not a comprehensive statement. He's not saying nobody understood. He is making a generalized statement that most of the Jews did not understand and comprehend who He was.
In verse 6 we read:
NKJ John 1:6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
NKJ John 1:7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe
Again we see the emphasis as we will all the way through the Gospel of John that the issue is believing in Christ. There are some 90 times the verb pisteuo is used in the Gospel of John. This emphasizes the fact that salvation comes through faith alone, believing in who Jesus is and what He did. So many people want to try to express the gospel as giving your life to Jesus or inviting Jesus into your heart or committing your life to God or all these vague terms that are never found in the Scripture. It's so easy and it's so simple. How does somebody get saved? Believing in Jesus. It's such a simple phrase, yet so many people have difficulty and trouble with it. John the Baptist is the witness to the light.
Verse 8 says:
NKJ John 1:8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.
As the New American Standard translates it - "this is the true light which coming into the world it enlightens every man." This is common grace that God is making Himself known to everyone and it is through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now skip down a few verses. We come to one of the primary verses dealing with the incarnation in verse 14.
NKJ John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,.
That's the process of the incarnation, the virgin conception, the Virgin Birth and the Lord Jesus Christ growing up living among men as a full human being.
and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth
NKJ John 1:15 John bore witness of Him
See how this section expands on the things that are said in the prologue in the first 13 verses.
He is the witness of the light.
and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.' "
16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.
17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
…New King James translates it. Do you know what that word is for "declare" in the Greek? You hear this word at least the English form of it all the time. It's exegeo where we get our word exegesis. It is to explain something. It is to reveal the meaning of something. So exegesis has to do with unpacking the meaning of Scripture and explaining it. So Jesus Christ is the exegesis of the Father. That's how we know the Father is because we see the Son. This is something Jesus emphasizes again and again in His ministry. So as the light He is the one who reveals the Father.
But what happens when the Father is revealed? Well, He's revealed in creation. Paul says in Romans 1 that what happens is that as men know Him because His invisible attributes are evident externally to us and knowledge of Him are within us, Paul says their response is that they suppress the knowledge of God in unrighteousness.
Well, this is exactly what John says in John 3:19 and 20.
NKJ John 3:19 "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world,
This is the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ.
and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
So they hate the light. They want to turn the light off. They want to shut it down. They would rather stay in darkness.
The best illustration of this is walking into a deserted house in Texas. Nobody has lived there for awhile. It's in the middle of the night and it's pitch black. You flip the lights on and all the roaches scurry for cover. (That communicated) Guess who the roaches are.
When the light comes on, people hate it. They want to turn the light off and force it. They're convinced they're living in a diagonal world and it's a parallel world. So they are living in a fantasy and they want to force everybody else to hold to that fantasy.
Verse 20 says:
NKJ John 3:20 "For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
General principle – those who are unbelievers who practice evil…what does the Bible mean when it says to practice evil, to do evil? How do we define evil? We didn't get there Tuesday night in our study of Solomon in I Kings 11 when Solomon introduces idolatry into Egypt and the text says that he did evil in the sight of the Lord. Again and again and again as we go through I Kings we will see that Jeroboam who becomes king of the north and introduces idolatry in the north that he did evil in the sight of the Lord and made them bow down to idols. That's how evil is defined in Scripture. Evil isn't defined in Scripture in terms of a mass murderer or somebody who commits genocide or any other of the horrible crimes that we think of in our society or our culture. Evil is defined foremost as worshipping something as god in the place of God. That is its foundation.
So when John says everyone who does evil, he's talking about people who have substituted the worship of something in the creation for the worship of the creator. "For everyone who does evil, hates the light."
It's the same thing that Paul is saying in Romans 1 that man worships the creature rather than the Creator. He is suppressing truth in unrighteousness.
NKJ Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
For everyone who does evil is parallel to the truth suppressor in Romans 1. Hating the light is the action of suppressing the truth. They do not come to the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.
We often ask the question - what in the world can be motivating these people that we see coming up in our culture like this man that I mentioned earlier who's suing Zondervan and Thomas Nelson because they used the word homosexual when they translated the Bible and that's giving him all sorts of trouble through his life? Well, that's because he doesn't want his evil deeds, his sinful deeds rather, to be exposed. He wants to live as if what he's doing isn't wrong and he doesn't want anybody telling him he's wrong. So those who have replaced God with the worship of anything in the creation hate the light and they don't want to be exposed. So revelation exposes the truth. It exposes us for who we are as sinners and that we have a need for salvation. That need has been supplied by the Lord Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins.
Now John 3:21 gives us the contrast that he who practices the truth… this is not the truth suppressor; but the one who practices the truth, the one who has positive volition at God consciousness. The one who wants to know about God comes to the light so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God. This sets up the battle between the truth suppressor and the true truth seeker, not the seeker that you have in church growth churches who is really seeking his own self-idolatry.
Okay let's skip ahead John 8, the next major section that deals with the concept of the light in John. This is where Jesus is again speaking to the Pharisees and then He emphasizes who He is. He speaks again to them, verse 12 outside the Temple. He is just outside the steps of the Temple.
I have a couple of pictures for you to give you an idea of where we are talking about. Now I'm going to take you through a process of pictures to try to help you see what you see today. This is a model that is built. The terrain is laid out like the terrain was in the first century. This is at the Jerusalem Museum in Jerusalem. This is a scale model of Jerusalem about 50 AD, about 20 years or so after the crucifixion of Christ. You know that because of the third wall that's displayed there. This is the Herodian Temple. We would be looking at it from…the vantage point of this picture is looking at the Temple itself from the Mt. of Olives from the east. So this is the east gate. Acts refers to this gate here as the Gate Beautiful. This is the outer courtyard, the courtyard of the women. Then you would go in through this gate. The priest would go in; then inside the courtyard here is where you have the brazen altar and the laver and then the door enters into the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. Over here you have various things set up where they would sell animals for the sacrifices. Then just off the screen here to the left (We'll go to a picture in a minute) is where you have your entry on the south wall into the temple precinct itself. That's where this scene in John 8 is taking place, just off the steps of the south wall.
I'm going to shift perspective in the next picture. Now we're looking from the south. Before, we were looking from the right hand side directly into the east gate. Now we're looking at the south wall of the Temple complex itself. We see the gates here and the steps of the Temple. It's down in this area right here where the scene is taking place where Jesus says that He is the light of the world. So in the presence of the Tabernacle the concept of light is going to reverberate with the Tabernacle and Temple imagery of the golden candlestick.
Here is another view. Now I've moved around to the southwest corner. You see all the gates over here. This is the south wall. Then this is the backside of the Temple.
Now this is another model. This is a model down underneath in the Wailing Wall tunnels. Here you see the same thing. Here's the south wall here. You would come up through some steps coming out here and here. Here are those white squares. Then you would enter into the Temple precinct from the south. Here is a depiction of the Temple. You can see how large it was. If you see pictures of the Temple Mount now with the Dome of the Rock there, the Temple was three or four times larger than the Dome of the Rock. It dominated the landscape.
This is just the Temple itself, another depiction of the Temple, an artist's model (conception). Then here they have…I guess they're bronze models of all these different sites in Israel. This is how it looks today. This is looking from the east here. This is where the original east gate was. This is the present east gate built in the walls that were built by Suleman the Magnificent back in the early 1500's.
This is the Dome of the Rock. The rock that is there (otherwise known as the Mosque of Omar built in the late 600s and it sits over a rock that) is thought to be where the Holy of Holies was. It's a rock where…this whole ridge here is Mt. Moriah. This is where Abraham was to sacrifice Isaac. It is the site of the Holy of Holies. If you go in there you can see the rock. No one has been allowed, (no non-Muslims have been allowed) to go in there since the Intifada of 2000.
Over here on the left you have the El Oxa Mosque. Then it's this area here….the walls are pretty much where they were (fairly close to where they were) at the time of Jesus. It is this area here where you have the outer steps, the outer courtyard. Then this area down here is the area of the old city of David.
Now that I've set up you, now you can see what it looks like today. This is looking at the southeastern corner of what would have been the temple precinct. This is the pinnacle of the Temple when Jesus is being tempted by Satan taken to the top (the pinnacle) of the Temple except in those days they didn't have all this landfill in here. So it dropped down this precipice all the way down to the bottom of the valley here. So that was quite a distance. This is the El Oxa Mosque here. Then the area outside the temple wall the southern steps are in this area right here where the arrow is. This is that particular area. You can see where they've walled up the original entry way (the holy gates) that went on to the temple precinct.
Now we'll go back to John.
NKJ John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."
So it connects again the concept of life and light. Truth is light. Light reveals the truth. When he says this, he's actually making a messianic claim. And the Pharisees and Sadducees and rabbis would understand this.
NKJ Isaiah 9:1 Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed, As when at first He lightly esteemed The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, And afterward more heavily oppressed her, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, In Galilee of the Gentiles.
The area of Zebulun and Naphtali is in the north. In Galilee, that's where Nazareth was located where Jesus grew up and the area where He had His ministry from Capernaum.
The prophecy says in verse 2:
2 The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined.
Yet as John says, they will reject it.
NKJ Isaiah 49:6 Indeed He says, 'It is too small a thing that
This is God the Father talking to His servant who is God the Son. You have plural deity in Isaiah. Don't let anybody tell you that you don't have the Trinity in the Old Testament.
…addressing the Second Person of the Trinity.
should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.' "
You don't say God didn't have a missionary plan in the Old Testament. It's very clear that He did. You see this come together in terms of the Christian life in passages like Ephesians 5:8.
NKJ Ephesians 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.
Walk as children of light
So the picture of the golden candlestick is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ as the one who reveals the Father, as the One who is the light of life and the One who is the light of the world bringing the truth and the gospel into the world so that the unsaved can be saved so that man can have hope and meaning and a future destiny with God.
So the light of the candelabra is a picture of God's grace and God's initiative in providing salvation and a Savior. So we've looked at the first element in the outer compartment of the Holy Place. Next time we'll come back and we'll look at how the altar of incense depicts the intercessory ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is significant for our study in Hebrews. All of this is good background to understand Hebrews 9 and 10.
Let's close in prayer.